To be spiritually healthy is to be thriving in your desire to pursue Jesus and walking in the strength of the Holy Spirit. But spiritual health is tricky. We might be so obsessed with looking good outwardly that we fail to pay attention to what’s going on inside us. No wonder Jesus addressed the outwardly religious of His day with a scathing indictment. “Hypocrites,” He said. It’s not enough to just play the part outwardly. Spiritual health works from the inside out.

Discussion Questions

Have you known people who seemed to present “a good, Christian” exterior but were later exposed as creepy or evil? How would you describe your struggle with matching your inside attitudes with your outside behaviors?

Notice Jesus’ response to the Pharisees in Mark 7:5-7. What words from Isaiah did Jesus apply to this group of outwardly religious men? How can we today be guilty of the same sins?

Jesus reserved harsh words for the outwardly religious of His day—the scribes and the Pharisees. Read Matthew 23:1-13. Take a moment to highlight the specific behaviors Jesus criticized.

Read Matthew 23:23-28. Again, notice more characteristics of the scribes and Pharisees. Why does Jesus tell them to focus on the inside of the cup and dish first? What does that mean?

In spite of their impure motives, the scribes and Pharisees looked like upstanding, God-fearing people in their behavior. Read Matthew 5:20. How much better would you have to live to possess a righteousness that “exceeds” that of the scribes and Pharisees. Is it possible that the righteousness Jesus is describing is not connected with your outward behavior at all (compare Romans 3:21-26)?

Paul encourages young Timothy to exercise physically and spiritually. Read 1 Timothy 4:8. How are you exercising toward godliness, beginning first with your insides? How would you assess the health of your current spiritual condition?

Further Reading

Kindness Toward Ourselves

There is often enormous pressure to keep up with the non-stop noise and activity of our modern world. Jesus offers us an alternative to this frantic pace but following Him and resisting the pressure around us will require a simple act: kindness toward ourselves. Is...

Simple Unplugging

Our immediate access to people and information through the use of technology has become a prevailing cultural norm. What has become the normal daily consumption of input can have a numbing effect on our soul and lead to our faith gradually growing thinner and thinner...

Drinking Beauty

God paints on a large canvas. His creativity is seen in the grandeur of the mountains, in the wildflowers on a rolling hillside, in classic masterpieces in an art gallery, or in the curious expression on the face of a child. Beauty is all around us. But seeing it...

Pausing to Detach

So much about the pace of life conspires against us. We might even be convinced that the faster we go and the busier we become, the more we’ll get done. But what does that kind of toxicity do to our souls? Could it be that God invites us to find Him through a...

Never Give Up

Resilience is such a powerful concept. Some of our greatest heroes and inspirational characters in stories are defined as people of resilience. But what does it look like to have a resilient faith? Spoiler alert... it doesn't mean that things are always going to go...