Addison Mizner was a famous architect and builder of the early 20th century who designed and built houses for the rich in south Florida. He was noted for his unusual designs. For instance, on one occasion he built a two-story house without a stairway. A client once inquired about getting a copy of the set of blueprints Mizner was going to use in building a house for him. He wanted to unveil to his friends the rather elaborate house he was having built. Mizner retorted, “Why, the house isn’t built yet! Construction first, blueprints afterward.” Admittedly, it is unheard of to construct a building without a set of blueprints to follow.
Mizner’s response is as much a comment on life as it is on building philosophy. People are often more interested in the product than they are the process. Like the Pharisees mentioned in the New Testament, the exterior finish is more important to them than the interior. They meticulously observe the law or command of God without giving much attention to the proper motivation. However, in order to be pleasing to the Lord a person should obey the Lord while being properly motivated.
Jesus gave the blueprint for proper worship and service in the kingdom of heaven when He instructed, “Be careful not to make a show of your religion before men” (Mt. 6:1, NEB). He illustrated His thesis by referring to three common practices: giving, praying, and fasting (Mt. 6:2-18). Some give to be seen by others that they may bask in the adulation and praise it brings. Hypocrites make prayer a meaningless ritual that is nothing more than an anemic exercise in formality. Pharisees, in particular, fasted twice weekly (cf. Lk. 18:12) in order to demonstrate their superior godliness and deep devotion. They did not comb their hair or wash their face during fasting. They powdered their faces to look haggard and pale. They wore soiled garments so that everyone would know they were fasting. It was all an outward show without any substance to it. “They do all their deeds to be seen by men” (Mt. 23:5).
“Lord, help us follow the blueprint found in Your word that we may worship and serve You in the right way and for the right reasons. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”