Dancing in the Light

I John 1:7 "If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanses us from all sin."

Location: North Platte, Nebraska, United States

I am a christian wife, mother and grandmother. I am a licensed Social worker and a licensed Christian counselor. I am most proud of the relationships I have with God, my family and friends all over the world. I have been blessed beyond my dreams.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Prettying Up The Plank

I have a friend who is an amazing artist. She makes a living for her and her family from sales of her "art". Tourists spend lots of money in her shop. Her works have been displayed all over the country and I am sure in other countries as well. What makes her work so novel is what she calls her "ordinary canvas". She takes what someone else would call trash and sands it, paints it, decorates it and makes it beautiful and valuable. From old wheels to rusty farm implements, to weathered wood, come works of art, worthy of any mantle or living room. She is amazing. She tells me that with enough paint and decoration, she can make anything pretty, its true purpose almost unrecognizable. Very talented!
I think many of us do that every day with some of our most undesirable traits. I started thinking about this passage in Matthew 7:3-5 : "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye." (NIV) --It seems many of us would rather spend a lot of time and put forth much effort to pretty up the plank in our eye rather than commit to removing it.
It is a constant struggle to keep the plank removed. It requires time in the Word, discerning God's will in our lives, giving Him lordship over our lives, battling satan and his attempts to deter us. It is a twenty-four/seven endeavor. And it is not always easy. It is so much easier to "pretty up" our plank. We can often disguise our plank with a life that includes going to the church building three times a week, praying before we consume our foods, leaving our Bibles and Power for Today on the coffee table or the desk for others to see. We mask the beam by using church words and being on church committees. We hide the lumber in our eye by singing at funerals and visiting the hospital. And before long, to the rest of the world, it is no longer a big ole chunk of wood but a "work of art", its true character invisible to those around us.
Jesus says it is important that plank be removed---not covered up. He says it effects our ministry. He says we cannot see clearly enough to help others with the beam in our eye. He says we are hypocritical to even try! That is pretty powerful!
I believe we have good hearts. I believe we have evangelistic spirits and we want to help others. But I also believe some of us are lazy. We know it is easier to work on and for others than to work on us and so we sand and paint and pretty up the faults, hiding them and then going out to share God's Word with the lost. Like my friend's art though, when one gets close enough, one can see a rusty farm tool, an old wheel, someone else's trash. A closer look reveals that much effort has been taken to make this discarded item into art. When that close look is taken, the value of the art decreases. Likewise, as we begin to develop relationships with others, the plank we took such great care to hide becomes glaringly evident. And our message is seen as less valuable, less honest, less desirable. In the book of Titus, Paul says that slaves should be taught to be honest and trustworthy so that "in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive".
It is not about art or about preserving a false impression. It is about God and salvation. It is about telling others that Jesus saves!! Prettying up the plank does not change the facts. We must work on us. We must spend time in the Word, learning about God and His will. We must repent and strive to walk as children of light. We must remove the plank rather than trying to disguise it. In doing so, we will make the teaching about God our Savior more attractive. And that's a good thing!!



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ouch! While I understand we cannot be perfect, you are right, we need to work on us--so we can be effective evangelists.
Good post sister

10:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I never thought about our behaviors and our lives making the teaching about God more attractive. That is so true--we have heard it for years, "Actions speak louder than words", "dont just talk the talk, walk the walk" but it is in the Bible too. Neat
Good post

10:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good analogy! You are right, we can try to hide our sins but they always come out.
Good post, my friend,
Love ya and hope you are feeling better

11:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is so true. Amen, we need to make sure our actions make others want to know God.
Good post


12:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There was an old saying, "If I could only be the kind of person my dog thinks I am"
Well I was thinking it should say "if I could only be the kind of person my blog portrays me as"
Your post today really touched a nerve---I need to do better
Thank you

4:09 PM  
Blogger massivetruth said...

Ironically, I started to see myself judging more and more people when I started being walked all over in customer service. I worked at a video rental store as one of the managers for a year. The end result was a disdain for the general public and a deeper appreciation for those who do customer service. I got so tired of cleaning up after rude, selfish, and lazy customers, that it made me bitter. All the while, my plank was getting thicker and longer.

4:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Funny, I was thinking this just yesterday in our Ladies class discussion-

True, true


4:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I cant add anything to the comments except amen.


6:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow--doesn't that say alot? Appreciate your comments, brother. The perception others have us is so important to God's work but it has to be real.

7:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you really touched my heart with this devotional. I catch myself being so judgemental some times. I know it is wrong. I appreciate you re-grounding me and helping me back on the right path.

Love ya

8:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hope you are feeling better by now? What is the news on Chad and Iraq and on your prodigal? I am still praying for all of you.

Love you

9:08 PM  
Blogger Neva said...

Mary, my friend
Thank you so much for your prayers. Yes I am finally feeling better--after my third round of antibiotics and one allergic reaction--I slept for longer than two hours for the first time in four weeks, just last night. It was wonderful.
Chad did not get to go to Iraq, something about all the paperwork. He can try again in six months. They continue to pray about it and just bloom where they are.
Nathan is the same--still squandering it all--I am still praying for a nearby pigpen. Thank you for asking and for praying.
I love you too

9:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So glad to hear you are better---
I know Chad and Traci are disappointed but you are relieved.
I will keep praying for Nathan


9:56 PM  
Blogger Marie said...

Wonderful post Neva. That was a much needed "blow". Never thinking of it as painting the plank, but I know I do it more than I wish I did. That is something I am going to work on with much resolve, so I can truly be an ambassador for Christ. Thank you for the prodding :)

6:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sometimes we use this as a reason not to reach out to others. "I cant help others until I am perfect" Thank you for making it clear this is not waht it is saying. it is a call to do soemthing about our own problems.


6:36 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

Neva, whenever I read thoughts such as this I am reminded of the words to "Stained-Glass Masquerade" by Casting Crowns. If you haven't heard it, I would recommend listening to it. Very strong song concerning "Prettying Up The Plank." Here are the words:

Is there anyone that fails
Is there anyone that falls
Am I the only one in church today,
feelin so small

Cause when I take a look around
Everybody seems so strong
I know they'll soon discover
That I don't belong

So I tuck it all away,
like everything's okay
If I make them all believe it,
maybe I'll believe it too
So with a painted grin,
I play the part again
So everyone will see me
the way that I see them

Are we happy plastic people
Under shiny plastic steeples
With walls around our weakness
And smiles to hide our pain

But if the invitation's open
To every heart that has been broken
Maybe then we close the curtain on our stained glass masquerade

Is there anyone who's been there
Are there any hands to raise
Am I the only one who's traded
In the altar for a stage

The performance is convincing
And we know every line by heart
Only when no one is watching
Can we really fall apart

But would it set me free
If I dared to let you see
The truth behind the person
That you imagine me to be

Would your arms be open
Or would you walk away
Would love of Jesus
Be enough to make you stay

Are we happy plastic people
Under shiny plastic steeples
With walls around our weakness
And smiles to hide our pain

But if the invitation's open
To every heart that has been broken
Maybe then we close the curtain on our stained glass masquerade

7:35 AM  
Blogger Keith said...

So true. But can't we also take this one step further? Aren't congregations also guilty of trying to pretty up? Just a thought.

8:40 AM  
Blogger Neva said...

I had heard the words before but had forgotten them. Thank you for posting them hear. They add to the post.
You are right, congregations sometimes "pretty up" so much that the world sees us as only the perfect people. They know they will feel out of place so they dont come. It is too bad our prettying up hinders our ability to reach out communities.
Thank you for visiting dancing in the light. I hope to see you back again.

9:06 AM  

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