25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.
The hypocrite has worked hard to ‘clean the outside of the cup’. To look respectable, to build a good reputation. This might be an attempt to impress people or a genuine attempt to impress or please God, but it's a mask, attempting to conceal the selfishness inside. Man looks at the outward appearance, God looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7). If the heart is selfish and proud, we can not change it by trying to modify our behaviour. Religion tries to work from the outside in, trying to change ourselves through discipline. The gospel works inside out, transforming our hearts which transforms our actions.
Am I a hypocrite? Do I see behavioural changes that I think I need to work on but ignore the root issue? For example, does my parenting focus on raising children who do the right thing, or does it focus on their heart? Will my children learn that if they keep the outside of the cup clean then I will be satisfied?
If you are a hypocrite, don’t turn the heart into the next thing on your list of things to clean up for yourself. Repent and ask God to change your heart. You don’t need behaviour modification, you need a heart transplant. You can’t do that yourself but God has promised to give you a new heart, a heart of flesh and not stone (Ezekiel 36:26).