I heard someone say to their child, "Cleanliness is next to godliness." Might that be true? Consider this: the Pharisees complained to Jesus that the disciples hadn't washed their hands before they ate. That was the tradition. That was what was expected of them - that they obey the law and traditions which the Jewish faith demanded. In other words, for the sake of tradition they made void the Word of God. So in reply to their complaint, Jesus made a double charge against the Pharisees.
First, he denounced them because they obeyed the traditions of men but at the same time disobeyed the commandments of God. Second, he accused them of being more concerned about clean hands than pure hearts.
Are we any different today from the Pharisees? We are very careful to observe tradition and custom. We try not to interrupt a person when he is talking to us. We don't talk with a mouthful of food in our mouth. We say "please" and "thank you". But are we just as careful in observing the commandments of God and Jesus?
For example, do we love our neighbor as ourselves? Do we honor our father and mother? Do we pray for our enemies? Do we act toward others as we would want them to act toward us? We observe the traditions of men but neglect the commandments of God. You see, in this respect we are very much like the Pharisees.
Likewise, we are more concerned about outward cleanliness than about inward purity. Regularly we take a bath or shower, brush our teeth, wash our clothes, dust the house, sweep the carpet, and paint the house. We are careful to guard against bad breath and body odor, but are we as diligent about keeping our minds free from impure thoughts, and our speech free from gossip, abuse, four letter words and using God' name in vain? Are our hearts free from jealousy, bitterness, hatred, and lust? We wash our hands, but do we wash our hearts? The truth of the matter is that cleanliness cannot take the place of godliness. Amen