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Sunday, September 19, 2010

To whitewash or not

13 You can't whitewash your sins and get by with it;
   you find mercy by admitting and leaving them. 
(Proverbs 28:13)

Whitewash was a common thing when I was growing up.  We had tons of trees in our yard and every so often, Dad would bust out a can of whitewash to coat the bottom 3-4 feet of the tree trunks with a fresh coat.  I always admired his handiwork when he was all finished because each tree just gleamed with the stark white trunks.  Along with the white picket fence circling the front yard, it was a sight to behold.  

It looked "pretty", but I never really understood the rationale for his doing that to the trees until I was much older.  He was minimizing the sun's effect on the trees in the cold months of winter when the trees were supposed to be dormant for a while.  The sun could get to the trees easier since the leaves had fallen off or were thinner, and the warm Arizona sun would stir the trees into "false" growth if left uncoated.  

So, he coated the base of the tree to attempt to stay off the growth, allowing the time of dormancy in the trees.  Since the roots are in cold ground and not much moisture was to be found in the winter, if growth was begun prematurely, the tree would be in a dehydrated condition and the fruit produced would not be as delicious the next year.  The whitewash served the purpose of making the trees look good, but it also kept growth from happening.

Okay, there is your morning lesson in botany!  In our passage this morning, the term "whitewash" refers to any deceptive word or action that we use to cover up or gloss over faults or errors in our behavior.  It is an excuse!  Our writer reminds us that we cannot whitewash our sins and get away with it.  We may look okay on the outside, but all the whitewash is doing is keeping us from growing!  We look okay, but our roots are in "cold" soil and the growth that would be produced is less than "full and ripe".  

It stands to reason that the writer would remind us of the value of admitting our sins and then leaving them behind.  It sets us free to get solidly rooted and opens us to the growth that really needs to occur.  Keeping sins hidden is pretty tough.  That whitewashing job took Dad a couple of days each time he did it.  Rain, sun, and a girl that liked to climb those trees took a toll on the whitewash!  He'd be out there "touching up" the thinned places so the trees kept that "fresh coat" appearance all winter.

That is how it is when we attempt to whitewash our sins instead of dealing with them.  We would have to keep applying our "whitewash" in order to cover up the sin.  It is a constant effort that would be better applied to learning how to walk away from the sin!  Next time you are tempted to bust out the "whitewash" and gloss over a sinful action or response, why not ask God to help replant you in some soil that will allow for your growth - you will enjoy the "son-shine's" effect!