[Papercut Press Publishing] 1999-09-27 - Another Whitewash

“Woe to you , scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also.” Matthew 23:25, 26

An example of your tax dollars at work comes from Ely, Minnesota, where birch trees in the National forest have been stripped of bark by lazy campers looking for firewood kindling. The U.S. Forest Service investigated and immediately went to work on the problem. They sent workers into the woods with buckets of whitewash to paint the nude trees. When this was done, they went back to daub in bark lines and realistic knotholes.

How many of us are like these birch trees? Wait, that’s too personal, Do you know anyone who is like these birch trees? Whitewashed … Clean, by all appearances on the outside so that even some of their bark lines and "realistic" knotholes are painted in. The outside is not a true reflection of what is a reality on the inside.

I have a friend who works in horticulture, in fact he has a Masters degree in it. He will tell you how important the bark is to the life of the tree. To strip the bark off is like taking the skin off the tree and leaving the flesh of the tree exposed and dying. No amount of paint can replace the natural bark that the tree produces to protect itself. So to paint the outside, even with realistic knotholes, only hides the reality that the tree is sick and dying from the inside.

Are you like these trees? Does your life look “put together” and “intact” from the outside, but really there is a host of sickness and an army of termites attacking you from the inside? There is hope for you. You are like everyone else. In fact, if you know that there is sickness in you and you know that all your ducks are not in a row and that everything in your life is not picture perfect (with knotholes painted) you are one step ahead of many.

Flee to Christ. Flee to Christ. There is healing for you in the great Physician. This is what the scribes and Pharisees would not, could not, do. They could not flee to the bottomless well of forgiveness and healing, for all that ills, that is the Christians comfort and hope in Christ. There is ample provision for you in Christ. “For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God …” 1 Timothy 4:10

It seems so simple. You may say, “Tim, can it really be that simple,” “Shouldn’t I try to get it all together first, before I come to Christ with all my problems?” “Shouldn’t I do my best first, and then Christ will make up what is lacking?” I would say, no, no, no, go to Christ first. Go to Him as you are, imperfect, and He will begin to mold you and conform you after His image and according to His will.

So many feel they must fix themselves first and then Jesus will somehow think them more worthy of His love. This is backward thinking. Come to Christ as you are. It was the mistake of the scribes and Pharisees to think that they could create their own holiness by their own works. Christ had stern words for them and their attempts. We come to Christ, daily, as the famous chorus says, “Just as I am …”

“If you can save yourselves by your works, go and do so, fools that you are, for you might as well hope to drink dry the Atlantic.” Charles Spurgeon

Soli Deo Gloria,