Noticeably clean and shiny

Published 4:29 pm Friday, May 22, 2015

When I was a student in Bible college in Lakeland, Florida over twenty years ago I tried to grasp all the knowledge I could from a very capable group of men and women that I studied under.  I remember hearing at least one thing, however, that I have not done so well applying.  One of my professors stressed to the class how important it is for the pastor to have a clean car—the cleanest one on the church parking lot.  It sounded like solid advice at the time while in the safety of that college classroom, but in the real world that I entered into after graduation I have not applied his wisdom on that point.  And I doubt if he had the privilege of driving the dusty, and sometimes muddy, roads of south Georgia as I have.
I was reminded of my failure in that area on a recent Sunday afternoon as I made a home visit.  Shortly after I drove up in the yard, the gentleman that I was talking to asked me if I had gotten a new car.  I had to tell him the truth—it was not a different car, I just washed it!  It’s amazing what soap, bleach, and elbow grease can do to an old car that has not had a bath in a long time! Even though that old Buick still has nearly two hundred and thirty thousand miles on it, taking away grime and dirt made a huge difference.
The Bible reminds God’s people that they need to be cleaned up spiritually by trusting Christ and consistently living for Him.  Colossians 3:5 provides this guidance for those who have put their faith in Christ and desire to please Him:  “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature:  sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.”  Furthermore, in verse 12, we are given this directive:  “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience”  (New International Version).
I always find it disturbing and disappointing when I hear people speak openly about having a relationship with Christ, yet displaying a life that does not measure up to their claim.  It is certain that we all have flaws that sometime surface in ways that we thought we had overcome long ago.  But we can rest assured that when we have those moments we can trust God to forgive us where we fail and give us strength to overcome the temptations that war against our souls.  However, there is great danger for those who allow sinful practices to persist in their lives without being heartbroken over displeasing God.  That would be much like telling people that our car is shiny and clean, while a quick look reveals that it is indeed still covered with an accumulation of dirt.
I didn’t have to tell Stacy that my car was clean when I visited him—the obvious spoke for itself.  Our lives ought to do the same.  It is in order for us to tell others what Christ has done for us, but it is essential that we also live in such a manner that they can see that an obvious difference has occurred.  This statement is worth remembering and applying:  “In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in Heaven”  (Matthew 5:16).

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