What are speech bubbles anyway? (Matthew 23:5) – Your Daily Bible Verse – August 25


BIBLE VERSE OF THE DAY: They do everything to be seen by others: They enlarge their speech bubbles and lengthen their acorns. Matthew 23:5

What are speech bubbles anyway?
By Katie Westenberg

These words from Matthew are the variety that I often quickly skip over. Like a long genealogy in the book of Numbers or a chapter in Levitical law, I am tempted to skim over ancient words that have long since been lost in modern vocabulary.

What are speech bubbles?

It turns out that they were small rolls of parchment containing the law. The Pharisees wore them around their necks and wrists as reminders – reminders to themselves and, more importantly, to the world around them. These men appreciated the scriptures.

At this time the Pharisees began to think that if a little was good, more is certainly better and they began to enlarge their phylacteries a little – bigger reminders to themselves and again, to the world that surrounds them.

I have never seen a speech bubble in my part of the world. It’s not exactly fashionable to hang the law on your wrist these days or to “extend our tassels”. But before skipping this passage too quickly, it would be wise to look past the unusual words. Jesus was talking less about trends and styles and more of a matter of the heart here.

Later in chapter 23 he says “…you are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are dirty….”. These Pharisees with their phylacteries and with their lives were good at polishing and shining the exterior. They were good at looking the part and saying the lines. But Jesus orders them to be careful: “first clean the inside of the cup and the platter, so that the outside also may become clean”.

Our bumper stickers never save us. The way we carry our Bible or share Bible quotes on social media will not save us. We live in a time when it’s easier than ever to be seen. It’s easy to apply filters, crop and edit our lives to perfection. But isn’t that all the outside of the cup?

It is quite easy to deceive the world around us, but there is one who knows our hearts. And that’s all He’s really looking for in the first place.

It’s easy to blame culture, social media, or any other distraction that tricks us into making the outside of our cups shine. But even though times have changed, the temptations of our hearts have not. The speech bubbles or the pretty handwritten writings perfectly quote the places of our houses, it’s less about the cups we choose to shine than our determination to shine, to clean, the inside first.

Today, may we give him our hearts first and fully, seeking his praise rather than that of the world around us. (John 12:43)

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