For the past few weeks I’ve been doing some painting at my house. No big deal – just painting the walls of a bedroom. The way to start that kind of job is to prepare the surface—which means caulking, filling holes, sanding—all that really boring stuff. |
As I was working on the walls I became increasingly aware of what a poor paint job the last guy had done on the wall. There were uneven places, holes that were not filled in but just painted over, wall paint that had ventured too far over onto the trim area, trim paint that was carelessly brushed over onto the wall color. Mentally I was becoming more and more aware of the shoddy work, vaguely wondering to myself, “Who did this?” Finally when I kept coming on more and more examples of poor workmanship I started very consciously trying to figure out who had painted the wall the last time. “Let’s see—the room would have been painted before we laid down the new carpeting—the carpeting was 7 or 8 years ago—that would have meant the painting would have been done by . . . . oh, that would be me.”
I can’t quite tell you what came over me when I realized I had been the careless painter. My first reaction was, “No, no! I would never have done this!” But alas, I had to face the fact that I was the guy. Then my second reaction: “Oh well, it wasn’t really that bad—nobody could see where the wall paint and the trim paint ran into each other, the painted-over repair work was behind a dresser where nobody could see, the painted-over holes are too tiny to be noticeable” – and on and on went my rationalizations.
Finally I realized, You know, that’s pathetic. I worship a Lord who thinks two things are really, really important: first, being honest about myself. It’s the easiest thing in the world to want to deny my own shortcomings, but that won’t get me anywhere. I have to be honest about myself, whether it comes to painting or making moral choices. All the rationalizations and self-justification in the world won’t cut it. If I’m ever going to grow, I must look at myself honestly.
Second, I have to work on my attitude toward other people. I was feeling really mean toward the guy who painted those walls last time. No sympathy—I was critical, judgmental, nit-picking, disparaging not just of the job but also of the guy who did the job. Of course, when I realized I was the guy, then I was wishing I had been a little more charitable. The Lord I worship is one who looks at people with eyes of compassion and understanding and love.
Maybe you’d like to know a little more about the Lord I serve. His name is Jesus, and he’s right there waiting for all of us—both you and me—to look to him for the direction of our lives. His ideals are high, but his support is also high. Let us tell you about him. Write us at KNLS, Anchor Point, Alaska USA 99556. Or we’re at KNLS@aol.com.