When a seemingly well person suddenly dies, acquaintances can be caught off guard and surprised. The often-heard comment of, I thought he was the picture of health, can be fallacious due to its external focus.
From the outside looking in, the individual had the appearance of looking healthy, great, and wonderful. Below the surface, however, a parasite or virus had taken its deadly toll. This scenario can be true of both an individual and an organization.
Take the recent case of J.P. Morgan. While this investment bank has been considered to be the best of breed, this morning it reported losses of $4.4 billion in the second quarter of 2012. When CEO Jamie Dimon learned of the lax and risky trading practices, he took steps to rectify the problem. Individuals were dismissed and part of an investment office was reorganized.
Even though the reporting of these losses came as a surprise to the banking industry and the investment community, the problem had been festering below the surface for quite some time.
Incidents such as this remind me of the words of Jesus: How horrible it will be for you, scribes and Pharisees! You hypocrites! You clean the outside of cups and dishes. But inside they are full of greed and uncontrolled desires. You blind Pharisees! First clean the inside of the cups and dishes so that the outside may also be clean (Mt 23:25-26).
When people are like the Pharisees, and they are satisfied with just appearing to be ethical and moral, there is a problem. When we neglect to care for what’s inside of our cup, eventually a nasty and very obvious boil will make its appearance.
To lift our cup to enjoy the sweet taste of victory, we need to heed the words of Paul: Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize (I Cor. 9:24-27).