Possibly as you read this, I am having a root canal done. 9:00 a.m. Friday. Tooth 2-4. I’ve often thought that if ever I were going to lose a tooth, it would be that one. The root canal, I’m told, is what will help me not lose that tooth. As I write this on Thursday, pain-free, I’m not wholly convinced! But the endodontist is a professional. I’ll trust him.
Apparently, the procedure will clear the roots of the tooth of nerves, pulp, and whatever else may be in there, and they will be filled with a rubber substance that will not break down. It will clear out the inside, in order to preserve the outside.
Jesus talked about this from a spiritual point of view. The Pharisees and teachers of religious law were terribly concerned about outward appearances, but were not dealing well with their inner lives.
“What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and self-indulgence! You blind Pharisee! First wash the inside of the cup and the dish, and then the outside will become clean, too. What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs—beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity. Outwardly you look like righteous people, but inwardly your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness” (Matthew 23.25-28, NLT)
It would be easy to use some sort of whitener to make the tooth look good, but if it’s dying on the inside, that’s not going to ameliorate my life in any way. The same is true with our spiritual lives. If we keep up appearances, but are dying on the inside due to spiritual malnutrition, that’s not going to be to our benefit.
Let me encourage you to tend to the inner life as a matter of first priority. If you take care of your relationship with Jesus first and foremost, that will position you better to tend to other matters.