Friday, August 27, 2010

Fresh Paint: A Cover Up

On my way home from town yesterday I noticed the road crew has repainted the center stripes on our nearby roads. It looks great. Sunflower yellow paint shone brightly in the late summer sun. It probably even reflects light at night, which will be helpful when dark rainy days hit. The only problem is they didn’t fix the road.

The intersection between the highway or town, and our neighborhood, has gotten so bad you have to slow to five miles an hour and pick your way through the potholes. Even then, it’s a bumpy ride. They say there’s no money in the county budget for road repair. Even so, I hoped they might resurface this main intersection before summer’s end. But nope, we got a fresh clean paint job instead.

Kind of reminds me of what Jesus said about the Pharisees: “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness” (Matthew 23:27-28, NIV).

They were dedicated to implementing the law, but their hearts were not dedicated to God. Jesus told his disciples to follow the law they taught but not their example, because, "Everything they do is done for men to see” (verse 5). They were not the spiritual teachers they should have been.

It was tradition in March, after heavy winter rains, to whitewash the tombs so no one (especially priests) would inadvertently step on them on their way to the Temple. This contact with the dead would prevent them from participating in worship. It also tended to cover up the fact that there were dead bodies inside. Jesus said the Pharisees were just like these tombs – they looked good on the outside, but were dead inside.

I don’t want my life to be just a fresh coat of paint. I don’t want to be a road that looks good, but is full of ruts and inadequate patch jobs which slow people down on their way to find Jesus. I don’t want to be a pious teacher that tells others how to get to heaven, when my own heart is full of death and darkness. I don’t want to paint over the sin in my life, but confess it to Jesus and be made alive and whole through His forgiveness. Yes, I’m saved, but need to keep coming back for more of His grace and newness. And He gives it freely.

David had it right when he asked God to clean him from the inside out, “Soak me in your laundry and I'll come out clean, scrub me and I'll have a snow-white life… Don't look too close for blemishes, give me a clean bill of health… God, make a fresh start in me, shape a Genesis week from the chaos of my life. Don't throw me out with the trash, or fail to breathe holiness in me. Bring me back from gray exile, put a fresh wind in my sails! …Going through the motions doesn't please you, a flawless performance is nothing to you”(from Psalm 51:5-17, Message).

It’s not enough to look good on the outside; living in Christ has to come from the heart.


  1. Great illustration, Beth. Thanks for this insightful post.

  2. I really like the name of your site. I feel like I have been having an epiphany with God these last few days! God is really teaching me some neat lessons about trust and truth vs feelings. Thank you for reminding me that "a flawless performance is nothing to you (from Psalm 51:5-17, Message)." I need all the reminders I can get that it's all about knowing Him, and a relationship with Him, rather than pleasing Him (and myself and others) with a perfect performance.
    Linda Baker

  3. What an apt illustration for all believers (and drivers:) So glad I followed the link to your thoughts.