It Takes More than a Bucket of White Paint!

Bible Reading: Ezekiel 12; 13; 14 - Listen

"You have not gone up to the breaks in the wall to repair it for the house of Israel so that it will stand firm in the battle on the day of the Lord. … Because they lead my people astray, saying, 'Peace,' when there is no peace, and because, when a flimsy wall is built, they cover it with whitewash, therefore tell those who cover it with whitewash that it is going to fall. … I will tear down the wall you have covered with whitewash and will level it to the ground so that its foundation will be laid bare. When it falls, you will be destroyed in it; and you will know that I am the Lord" (13:5, 10-15)

My husband and I vacationed in the Bahamas for our twentieth wedding anniversary. Our travel agent had described our resort as a "newly renovated, 5-star resort, only 5 minutes from the beach." When we arrived, we found it to be an older resort with broken furniture, rusted appliances and cracked, dirty walls, which was located in the middle of the island, requiring a taxi ride to get anywhere. Some of the rooms were freshly painted in an attempt to hide their need for repair.

When I read Ezekiel's account of the prophets who whitewashed the sins of the Israelites, I was reminded of our Bahamian resort. How often do we just "apply a fresh coat of white paint" over our problems, denying and covering up the real issues, instead of removing from our lives the things that are rotted and rusted, and rebuilding them? How often do we falsely hope that the road to healing and recovery is quick and easy, and attempt to change our lives in our own knowledge and strength, when our only real hope is to rely on the counsel and strength of our Lord, and to enlist the help of trusted friends who can provide support and hold us accountable? If we follow God's instructions for building and repairing our lives, we will stand firm when trials come. But if we simply whitewash our faults, saying that everything is fine when we are weak and falling apart, our lives will eventually collapse. God asks us to acknowledge that he is Lord. We can either acknowledge him now, letting him rebuild our lives as we submit to his will, or we can wait until after he tears down our walls and bares our foundations, when we are forced to start all over.

We also need to be careful that, when others need help, we don't just "sell them a bucket of white paint" (14:10). Do we offer them false hope and approval or do we encourage them to follow after God, supporting and guiding them in God's truths as they work to repair and rebuild their broken lives? If we only tell them what they want to hear, ignoring the hard truth, we "will bear their guilt" (14:10). The one who sells the whitewash "will be as guilty as the one" who buys it (14:10).

"First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean" (Mt. 23:26). If we will let God repair the damage of our soul, he will build a solid inner structure that can stand firm through the storms of life. If we will turn our cup right-side up and allow his love and goodness to pour into our hearts, it can clean up the "rust" from past hurts and the "rot" of sin. If we will stop applying our own whitewash and will allow God to clean the inside of our cup, then as his love washes through us, it can flow out, uncontaminated, into the lives of others. If we will let God make us into "survivors," then when others see our conduct, they will be consoled regarding every disaster we have endured, for they will know that God has done nothing in our lives without cause (14:22-23).