A few months ago, some boxwoods we had planted died. We realized they were dead just before an event at our home where a bunch of folks were coming and would walk by the area where the deceased plants were sitting.
Pam, ever the consummate gardener, looked at the plants and agreed with my astute observations that the brown leaves probably indicated death. (!) I thought it would mean a trip to the hardware store to select and replant. But she said, “It’s getting ready to get colder… they might not make it long in the cold weather. Get me some green spray paint.”
Spray paint? On plants?? But I did the math and estimated that spray paint was cheaper than new plants, so off I went and came back with a lovely shade of Garden Green (guess we’re not the first). And I painted them… and to my surprise, they looked good!
And we got through our party (sorry… I meant fellowship) with no one noticing the difference. Frankly, I got excited thinking I may never have to replant again. Just grab the spray paint.
Well that ain’t happening. This was an emergency that required desperate measures.
Three months and some weeks later, the plants still look good. Real good, in my unschooled opinion. Good enough, in fact, that when I was outside last weekend, I WATERED THEM! They fooled me, even though I was the artist who painted them.
And as I reflected on my glistening, phony paint job and the dead plants masquerading as living ones, I was reminded that the same happens sometimes in the Christian walk. We see those who look like, talk like, dress like and seem like the real thing. But underneath they are lifeless, dead branches bearing external signs of life.
Jesus talked about religious Pharisees and described them as “whitewashed tombs, full of dead men’s bones.” They were hypocrites, posing as righteous. But God knew they were only painted.
“Examine yourselves,” Paul said. “Test yourself. Make sure that your faith is real.” Only two people can know the difference as the outside is evaluated and painted and posing as the real thing: God…
… and you.
PRAYER: “God, my heart is laid bare before the cross and before You. Help my life not to be simply window dressing and externalized religion. Help my heart to be given and fully surrendered to You.”