Points to Ponder/Rust Spots on Your Soul?
by Pastor Dennis Whitmore
Having an old car that runs very well, I wanted to invest in keeping it in good condition in order to avoid buying another one. It had some rust spots forming, with an especially bad one spreading near the windshield. So I had it patched and painted, and it looked like new. While we were living in Big Pool, I kept it in the garage. It maintained a new shiny appearance and I felt like maybe I could get several more years out of it.
A year later we were moved to Laurel, to a parsonage without a garage. So now the car sits on the street. It is exposed to the snow and salt, pollen and rain, the blazing sun of summer and the freezing cold of winter. It was only a matter of a few months when the bubbles of rust began popping up again. When I had a body shop man look at it, he found a flaw in the repainted area around the windshield. Keeping it in a garage daily for almost a year had kept the outdoor elements from bringing it out sooner. The previous paint job had covered over some bad spots; however, it did not completely eliminate the imperfections, which were the seed of future problems. The environmental conditions beat on the car and brought a harvest from those seeds very quickly. Yet all along, as it sat in the garage during the earlier months, those spots of potential destruction were under the shiny surface waiting to spring forth.
Some people in churches are like that. As long as they are comfortable in their religion and safely parked within the four walls of a building, they look good. They say pious and righteous things. They appear to be godly, solid Christian persons. But appearances are deceiving. As God said to Samuel when he was trying to figure out who God wanted him to anoint as king of Israel:
“For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (I Samuel 16:7b)
When one is exposed to the harsh elements of life for a time, seeds of sin can germinate and try to push out from under cover.
Jesus warns believers in his conclusion to the Sermon on the Mount:
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” (Matthew 7:24-27)
Notice in both of the above cases, storms DO come. Just because one is a Christian does not mean life will become easy. In fact, if you are living for Christ and striving to obey His word in all things, you will probably find life becomes harder.
“Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” (II Timothy 3:12 NKJV)
Jesus also warned His followers in John 16:33b: “In the world you will have tribulations; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
The key to facing the trials and tribulations, those hostile elements of the outside world, is OBEDIENCE. How many of us “paint over” our sins, our weaknesses, and those ugly spots of stubborn pride? You look good for a while, but let one of life’s storms beat on you and you will find those spots beginning to overwhelm your cover. Worst of all, other people will see these things and someone could really be hurt. Your witness could be discredited.
“Be sure your sins will find you out.” (Numbers 32:23b)
Be accountable to someone you can trust. Bring out those flaws, wayward attitudes, and temptations and face them. Satan works best in the dark, so bring to the light those things by which he could gain a foothold in your life. Do not ever think that you are so invincible that you would not fall. Given the right “weather conditions” around you, just the right combination of storm fronts beating on your heart house can finally bring you down.
Every faithful, devoted believer who fell into sin drifted into it under full conviction that “that would never happen” to them. Self-deception is the worst kind.
“Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.” (I Corinthians 10:12 NKJV)
Deal with the spots and the flaws. Do not spend so much time in the safety of the garage. Isolating yourself may protect that outward gloss, but underneath is rust and rot. It is just a matter of time before it becomes visible to all. It already is visible to God.
“Make this your common practice: confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with.” (James 5:16, The Message)
Yours in Christ,
Pastor Whitmore serves God at the First United Methodist Church in Laurel, MD.