You know how remodeling is, one thing leads to another. Right now, we are spending our equity to update our house. This project has been long over due. The back deck needs replacing, the trim needs painting, and much of the inside trim is overdue for a coat of paint. Now that our girls are off to college, we feel comfortable doing this. After all, no need to fix something when teenage tornados’ are still around.
On the subject of one thing leading to another. We need to replace the kitchen counter, which leads to the wood trim being replaced. Then, we decided to replace the tile on the laundry room and bathrooms. This leads to new counter tops in at least one of the bathrooms. We’ve been wanting to do this since we bought the house nearly eight years ago.
Like any remodeling job, you can expect the unexpected. We got it today. When they were under the house trying to turn off the water to the refrigerator, they discovered a problem. I asked, ADid you find a snake?@ They said no, worse than that. Then I said, Arats?@ The answer again was, ANo, worse than that.@ Then he said, AI hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the wood under your tub is rotten. Apparently, we’ve had a leak in the master bathroom for a long time and we’re lucky we didn’t end up with the tub collapsing through to the ground while we were showering.
Now, we’re going to have to buy a new tub, which requires a new toilet and sink that match (which I hated the colors anyway). This will (a)delay the project and (b)add to the expense. Oh well, I’m glad they found it before they put the tile in. Better a delay than a collapse.
As I’ve thought about this today, I’ve pondered the spiritual implications of this matter. First of all, while all of us can clean up well on the outside, in reality, sin is an inside job and can be hidden and undetected for a long time. Usually when someone >falls into sin,’ we think it happened overnight. In reality, it’s been a lengthy deterioration. The result comes from a steady drip that has been destroying the structure. No one collapses overnight.
To change the imagery, there are no blowouts in the Christian life. Most of what we view as a blowout is the result of a slow leak. Drifting is subtle and deadly. It goes undetected until it’s almost too late. Left unchecked, you can remodel the outside but the structure of your life is on a shaky foundation.
Secondly, sin and the collapse of our testimony is costly. It costs less to keep a home up than it does to repair it when it is falling apart. Terri and I passed a beautiful old home in Cuthbert, Georgia the other day. It is probably over 10,000 square feet but it looks like it is about to fall apart. The once stately home now stands as a monument to neglect.
The same can happen in our spiritual lives. While we think we can ignore the rotten board here and a crack there, the reality is, it begins to multiply and catch up with you. The Saturday fix it list can become a major renovation project. The old saying, >You can pay me now, or you can pay me later,’ is true. Sin is costly. The longer we ignore it, justify it or fail to confess it, the more it cost us in a lost testimony and time. If you don’t believe me, read how David described his body felt when he covered his sin.
Thirdly, rot can’t be ignored. You can’t cover it up. You can’t clean it up. It must be dealt with. Left unattended to, there will be a disaster. A major source of rot in our lives can be self righteousness and self justification. If I am on the throne of my heart, then my heart has a rotten king. In my flesh dwells no good thing. My righteousness is as a filthy rag in the eyes of God.
Fourthly, rotten wood cannot stand the test of time or the stress that will eventually lead to a collapse. The dripping water has weakened the fiber of the wood under my house. While 98% of the house is fine, this one section is weakened and dangerous. I can not ignore it or even try to isolate it and say, AThe majority of my wood is okay, why worry about this one section?@
This is exactly what people do with sin in their lives. They try to justify it and make excuses for it. They point out all the good things they are doing. Their bottom line is, my good outweighs my bad. They think the good in their lives can compensate and overcome the rotten areas. It can not. One bad apple can destroy the whole bunch. One area of our lives, left unchecked can destroy our testimony.
I’ve decided I better do like the man said, tear it out, fix it right and put in a new tub. I figure, he’s the expert. He knows best. My brother-in-law who is a handy man agrees. The problem has to be dealt with.
I’m just wondering, why is it we’ll willingly receive the counsel and recommendations of a plumber, builder, electrician, mechanic or doctor but we buck when the preacher tells us the truth. If there’s rot in my wood, I need to know it. If there’s sin in my life, I need a spiritual doctor to tell me. It seems to me, the only place on earth where people don’t want someone to be dogmatic is in the church.
We’d rather whistle our way through the graveyard, on our way to hell than listen to the warnings at the gate. We’d rather change churches than come to the altar. We’d rather try to find something wrong with the sermon than see the sin in our own lives. We’d rather point out others who are (in our eyes) worse than we are, than look at ourselves in the mirror and let the Word and the Spirit reveal to us where the rot is eating away at our soul. No wonder so many fall into sin – they’ve ignored the warning signs.
God has a purpose for us. If we follow His plan and obey His Word, we won’t find ourselves dealing with rot. In fact, by spending time daily in His presence, we’ll know where the leaks are in our spiritual lives before they become major problems. If we would learn to keep our confessions current, we would never have to deal with rot. The destruction and deterioration would never get that far.
©2004 Michael C. Catt. All rights reserved.
Michael served as the President of the Large Church Roundtable, the Southern Baptist Convention as an IMB Trustee, President of the Georgia Baptist Convention’s Preaching Conference, Vice President of the Georgia Baptist Convention, and President of the 2008 Southern Baptist Convention Pastors’ Conference. He has spoken at conferences, colleges, seminaries, rallies, camps, NBA and college chapel services, well as The Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove. Michael is the recipient of The Martin Luther King Award, The MLK Unity Award, and a Georgia Senate Resolution in recognition of his work in the community and in racial reconciliation.
Michael and his wife, Terri, have two grown daughters, Erin and Hayley.