The Inside Counts

July 30, 2015 — 17 Comments

inside counts

What lies behind you and what lies in front of you, pales in comparison to what lies inside of you.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

A few weeks ago, I was driving to meet one of my team members at a job site when something on the side of the road caught my eye.  A large pile of green leaves formed a mountain in the front yard of one of the houses I was passing.  As I approached the house, I noticed the leaves were actually still attached to branches which were still attached to the large trunk of a giant maple tree.  The tree trunk had separated from the roots at the very base of the tree.  The outside of the tree trunk looked like a normal maple tree, but the inside was filled with dark brown rotten wood.  No wonder the tree fell over.

I wonder if the homeowners knew how unhealthy this tree really was.  The green leaves and the bark on the outside of the trunk left travelers like myself the impression that the tree was healthy.  In reality, the tree was rotting from the inside out.

The fallen tree had me thinking the rest of the way up to the job site.

Am I taking care of my insides?  Or am I just faking it hoping everyone thinks I’m doing fine?

Many people dress to impress.  We wine and dine.  We spend like there is no tomorrow.  And we put on a shell that doesn’t give bystanders a real picture of what is on the inside.

Self-examination and transparency with a few close confidants is required to give an honest assessment of what is really going on inside our skin.  Are we filling our minds with things that honor God?  Or are we filling our heads with trash?  Are we feeding our hearts and souls with “nutrition”?  Or are we consuming “junk food”?

These aren’t questions you can answer in the comments of a blog post.  These are questions you must intentionally ponder.

When you arrive at your answer, you have a decision to make:  What do you need to start doing to build a healthy inside?  What do you need to stop doing to prevent further rotting inside?  And what do you need to keep doing to stay on track and to build a life that honors God from the inside out?

These are the questions I leave you with today.  Truly dwelling on these questions and your answers should keep you stretching.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.  Philippians 4:8

Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments.

Jon Stolpe


Christ-follower, husband, dad, engineer, manager, runner, blogger, sax player, group life fan, freelance writer, and the list goes on...
  • What a great post, Jon!!! It seems that our entire culture is rotting from the inside out, and the only hope is Jesus.

    • Thanks, Leah. We have the opportunity to share that hope.

  • Your right Jon. As a pastor I know i am guilty of showing up with my “church face’ on. As leader this might be good a times but I need the support of others. I need that accountability and honesty to keep my inside on track.

    • Do you have that accountability in place? If so, what does it look like? If not, what’s holding you back?

      • I have to admit I don’t have formal structure in place, but I have some close guys who I am able to real with them. I know I have their trust. My wife and I met with one of our Elder’s today for lunch to touch base. it is great having a strong circle of support. – A support that really is rare in ministry.

        • Sounds like it is working for you. It’s so important!

  • Lulu

    Just today I was discussing this deception with a friend. I was comparing the Christian life to a peach. They look good on the outside, but are rotting in the inside. I’ve taken many a peach that appeared “just right” and cut into them – yuck! They appear to rot from the inside out. Appearance seems to be a disease that believers catch. Later in the day a group of friends were bemoaning how their Christian upbringing was full of “looking good”, always. It really is insidious.

    • We talked about this from a slightly different angle at my men’s group on Friday morning. We talked a lot about heart. Heart matters.

  • midget38

    Yes, we focus on the past and future so much that we tend to forget the present. We should learn to embrace the moment.

  • sometimes it feels like we espouse an inside out philosophy Jon but then we are quick to try and run back to the outside in world we live in because it just isn’t sexy to live with an inside out model!

    • Interesting perspective. I’d love to hear you elaborate more on this.

      • its everything you said in your post…we are quick to look at the branches and say…man everything is good! We try to experience behavior modification without ever changing anything on the inside.

        It isn’t sexy because it takes too long to get the real thing….the inside out thing….true change….so instead we settle for behavior modification..outer change that doesn’t really reflect the heart or the inside…making a little more sense? I think you have just inspired a blog post in me!

  • Jon, thank you for this post and strong reminder that what matters is on the inside. Our world focuses so often on outside manifestations of success when true success is aligned with God and internal.

    • “I don’t want to gain the whole world and lose my soul.” If we can look at success from this standpoint, I think we can build a life that is healthy on the inside.

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