I’ve got white martial arts gi’s hang-drying on the line today and I’m gazing at them with lament: why, oh why is the uniform is white?!
I don’t consider myself a very domesticated woman. I throw laundry in the washing machine with high hopes it will take complete care of all our dirty clothes. Yet, the white gi’s have dirt stains along the bottom of the pants where flip flops have been dragging them, there’s blood stains from an opponent they were grappling with, and somehow there’s a trail of orange juice along the front.
Googling all the tricks I scrub with soap, try adding vinegar, use cold water, and eventually achieve something close to success. The cloth returned to a semblance of white, but the faint remnants of the stains remain visible.
When it comes to our faith, don’t we do the same thing?
We make our best attempts at scrubbing ourselves free from sin - particularly the public ones - not wanting any blemish seen by others, coveting our appearance with high priority. Trouble is, we know it’s still there.
When we arrive in class I feel better when the other kids’ gi’s have stains on them too. I feel less incompetent, less like a failure. But comparison isn’t where faith is found.
Do we truly believe we are saved by grace?
We minimize the grace of God because we think it’s our job to scrub ourselves clean, as if He tells us, ‘you got yourself into this mess, now get yourself out.’ Yes, we will struggle with sin every day until his return, but there is far more grace in Jesus than there is sin in us!!
I wonder how we receive this beautiful truth?
It doesn’t mean we let loose and gleefully indulge sinful habits and behaviors. We don’t put on our white gi and jump into the mud, that’s not using the gi as it’s intended. We wear the uniform to practice and to compete. Yes, it’s gonna get dirty.
In the same way, living as God intends, for His purposes and His glory means we’re going to get dirty too. Even along the path of obedience, we will face temptation and sin against others. We will not achieve perfection on this side of the garden.
But we can sit before him, holding out our dirty laundry, asking for the grace to persevere and grow in righteousness through it. The difference is we draw near instead of run away, we depend upon Him not ourselves, we cling to the hope all things will be made new again instead of succumbing to despair.
The truth found in Christ is, “you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor 6:11). May our prayer be as David’s, “keep steady my steps according to your promise, and let no iniquity get dominion over me” (Ps 119:133).