Back in the days when I was single and had to cook for myself all the time, I discovered the magic of barbecue sauce. Although some little chicken may have given her life to provide me some tender white meat, I found that covering her offering with barbecue sauce made me appreciate what she did just a little more.
I have always found pigs particularly offensive. As Colonel Henry Potter of the old M*A*S*H* television series once commented, “Pigs are ugly. You do a pig a favor when you eat it.” I have never heard a pig squeal but that it made me long to send it to the slaughterhouse. And to see one of those little oinkers kept as a house pet only goes to show you that P.T. Barnum was right about a fool being born every minute. But all is forgiven if the pork is swimming in barbecue sauce.
In those days of my culinary experimentation I found you can slap barbecue sauce on about any meat and a variety of vegetables to good effect. In fact, if there is something that doesn’t quite taste right there is really no need to figure out what’s wrong. A little more barbecue sauce and the problem is fixed. And even if the meat was not quite right, I always figured that it was partially redeemed because the barbecue sauce made it at least taste better. Barbecue sauce. Put it in barbecue sauce and I’ll at least give it a try.
What I believe about cooking I have also translated to the world of repairs. Paint it. If it’s broken beyond all repairing, paint it and at least it looks better. While others are discussing interior design, a gallon of flat latex will settle the matter quickly. If it’s dirty, it may require a second coat. If it’s really dirty it will have that grainy texture that people pay extra money for and call artistic. If there are cracks, just keep painting the spot and pretty soon it’ll fill in. If not, see the comment about texture above.
The real value of barbecue sauce and paint is what they cover up. That’s well and good with things like a pork chop or an old fence but it doesn’t work at all with our souls. In fact, my sloppy approach to life may be annoying in the kitchen or workshop but it is absolutely deadly in my spiritual life.
No matter how much barbecue sauce there is it still doesn’t change what the meat is beneath. No matter how much paint I throw on an old wall, it doesn’t mean the wood quits being wood. No matter how much I dress up an old sin, it doesn’t quit being a sin. It’s just a prettier sin, a more delectable sin, but a sin nonetheless.
It is precisely this trait of human nature that infuriated Jesus so much when He was dealing with the Pharisees. In Matthew 23:27-28 we find Jesus pressing the attack when He says, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.” Painting the outside of a tomb doesn’t change the fact that inside is death. Covering up our sin doesn’t change the fact that it strangles our souls. To try to cover it is to appear as pitifully ridiculous as Adam and Eve did when they crouched in the bushes trying to hide from God. The solution is not to make ourselves prettier. The solution is to have ourselves cleaned up by the Savior.
I have no idea who will read this but I am confident of this. You may be the one that has tried to beautify what is terribly ugly. Do not apply another coat of paint – there isn’t enough to fill in the cracks. It is time for cleansing. It is time for forgiveness.