Years ago, Hannah and I had the privilege of receiving a private tour of the Holy Land led by a guy named Roni Winter. To us, he was like a Jewish Indiana Jones — he’s an archeologist and a historian — and he had an incredible amount of knowledge about the region. One day of our trip, he took us to some amazing ruins called Beit Shean. As we walked around what was once a thriving Roman city, he painted a picture of the immense beauty and grandeur that characterized this place when it was in its prime. Then, he looked at us and inquired, “Do you want to know why the Roman Empire fell?” and he said, “Follow me.” As we walked with him up some rather obscure stairs, we ultimately came upon a tiny room that must have been no more than four feet by six feet. There, in that cubby hole, he pointed to a pedestal that housed the “god” of that temple and he said, “This is why the Roman Empire fell.” He went on to explain that everything in those days was about the outside — buildings were constructed with gold leaf, marble pillars, gorgeous lanterns, and ornate decor. However, very little care or attention was given to the inside, for it was all a matter of appearance and show. For this reason, even a society as seemingly robust and innovative as the Romans ultimately became weak and crumbled from within.
My friend, just as the Romans lost their culture and their way of life because they didn’t pay attention to the soul of their society, it’s critical to build the inner part of your life before the outer. While it’s tempting to put all of your time and energy into the parts of you that the world sees — your appearance, your job, your home, and your image — those things are not a measure of the health of your true self. While you may be able to convince a lot of people that you have a “perfect life” based on what you project externally, divine power comes from being at peace deep within and resting in God’s love so you can love yourself. Knowing this, I encourage you to take time this Christmas season to ask the Lord for His perspective on the coming year’s priorities, and invite Him to transform you from the inside out.