KEY SCRIPTURE Nil
RELEVANCE We're getting the house painted at the moment. Being an older house circa 1920, it's presenting a challenge for our painters due to the former paintwork. Thanks to Heather's keen eye, we saw the house advertised for removal twenty-four years ago. It was beautifully situated in the leafy Melbourne suburb of Kew, just begging for the right people to relocate it and take it on as a project. Fortunately, we were those people.
The transport company delivered it in three sections on three trucks, placed it on stumps, and we got to work on the reno's shortly after. It took every weekend from Easter to Christmas, as well as some nights and weekdays, and we moved in just before Christmas Day.
We still had so much work to do that it took me a few years before I painted it. That time allowed me to look around and see the poor painting that had occurred in the past. The most prominent was the lack of scraping back and filling the holes and pitted boards from other years of poor painting.
It appeared that they did little preparation every time someone painted the house. Well, as embarrassed as I am to say it, I followed suit. The prep job was immense, and I quickly understood why others had left it. My time was short, so I sanded the worst spots and commenced painting, just like my predecessors. With help from a friend, we got the job done.
But that was many years ago, and the current professional painters are doing much better. But even these guys have painted over a few trouble spots without fixing them, and I raised that with the Supervisor, who wasn't pleased. They'll fix all that. Their painted areas look great from a distance, and only when I got closer did I recognise the unrepaired defects. The closer I got, the more outstanding they became.
I'm pleased in a sense, as it got me thinking about the defects we don't fix in our lives. Others tell us about our faults and sins, and we even engage professionals like pastors or psychologists at times to help. But if we don't fix the defects, meaning if we try and paint over them by putting on a cloak of respectability or righteousness without repairing the internal issues, they will become glaringly obvious when people get to know us better—when they get closer.
My paintwork issues were hidden by the painter who hoped I wouldn't notice. But I saw them clearly and knew the painter had become lazy. Likewise, we can't cover sins and flaws with paintwork. God sees everything, and sooner or later, so do others. We're fortunate they forgive us, but God and people expect us to use our discipline to fix those spots, as we can't keep relying on their forgiveness for our laziness or presumption. Some of us don't even look at ourselves with any serious effort to change our present stature into the stature of Jesus Christ. It's all too hard, and we say, "People can love me as I am or get out of my life". In fact, we're telling God He can love us as we are, and He can expect little work from us. Like the one-talent servant, we do little preparing, sanding and top-coating to make ourselves acceptable and presentable before Him.
If we don't remove sin and significant flaws, they turn into relationship problems. All relationships become close up, even when on the phone, text, email or social networks, and hidden defects under our paintwork are eventually discernible.
Here is a typical paintwork issue. "I'm not perfect, just forgiven". We can paint over why we feel it's okay to use this excuse for years without correcting our character issues. We've identified the holes and pitted areas, but leave them in and expect people to continue forgiving our nature that we resist modifying.
Rather than use "I'm not perfect", why don't we accept Jesus' words in Matthew 5:48 from the sermon on the mount where he spoke to many people just like us, saying, Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. Jesus was instructing them to do the paintwork properly in their own lives.
The Apostle Peter echoed that comment in 1 Peter 1:15-17, But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation (Manner of life); Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. Peter, of course, was cautioning the New Testament Priesthood (us) in precisely what God warned the Old Testament Priesthood about in Leviticus 20:7, To discard their lusts for sins and worldliness and be like Him.
An old saying is, "You can't make a silk purse from a sow's ear". While that may be true for some of my weather-beaten boards, it is not valid for us. We can become completely different under the guidance of the Holy Spirit—when we give over all our lives for reproof, correction and instruction in righteousness so that we can become people of God perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
I guess it's strange to be pleased that painters left flaws in their paintwork. But what excellent instruction to me.
PRAYER Dear Lord, thanks for this opportunity for reflection. You seem to turn anything into a life lesson for me, even seemingly irrelevant painting matters. Please don't stop sharing your thoughts and cautions as I need everyone of them.