by Blake Cromwell
Oliver Cromwell addressed the famous French painter, Peter Lely, declaring: “I desire you would use all your skill to paint my picture truly like me, and not flatter me at all, but remark all these roughnesses, pimples, warts and all; otherwise I never will pay a farthing for it.”
Cromwell’s words contrast with the common attitude in all of us to be real but not too real. Too often Biographers (especially biographers of Christians) reveal only the shinning highlights and accomplishments while leaving out the valleys of failure and discouragement that are normal to every life.
In contrast to this, the Bible is the most honest of all books. It reveals the true nature of man, “warts and all.” There is no sugar coating the failures of those who God used to do great things. I have always found it encouraging to read of weak men who became strong through God’s grace and patience.
In the book of Proverbs it says, “A good man will fall seven times and rise up again.” The Bible is very clear that life isn’t always victory to victory rather it is “three steps forward and two back.”
The Bible is realistic and it encourages us to be realistic about others and ourselves. If you beat yourself up emotionally and won’t forgive yourself for failure maybe you have an unrealistic view of man. Maybe you should take another look at God’s Book on humanity. The Bible doesn’t see man as a demon or as a deity. No, man is created in God’s likeness and has great capacity for good or evil. He needs a Savior because he is imperfect and needs saving.
A good Bible search reveals the ups and downs of those who God used. Noah after building an ark and being delivered from the flood fell to the temptation of drunkenness. Moses lost his temper and murdered a man. Adam and Eve took a perfect marriage and turned it into a nightmare. Peter the Apostle revealed his racial hatred and even lied about knowing Jesus Christ.
The question is, “Did God reject any of those who fell?” No, all those who sought God have been forgiven and found grace to be different. All of the men and women of the Bible are examples of God’s forgiving grace.
Of course, there are some who use forgiveness as an excuse to never change. They call themselves Christians but they are not striving to be like Christ. The Bible calls that hypocrisy. God’s forgiveness is not provided as an excuse to sin. His forgiveness is there if we sin as we attempt to be godly.
The great encouragement to all sincere people who are wanting to be Christ-like yet find themselves once again in the pit of failure is that God sees you, “warts and all’ and still loves you. Father God isn’t discouraged with you and you have not shocked Him by your pitfalls. He desires that you would bring yourself to Him, confess your need for Him, and trust Him to transform you into the image of His Son.
Our change will happen but probably not as fast as we and others we would like. Don’t give up because of failure, reach up to His forgiving grace and begin again. This weekend why not take another step forward and attend a church in the Kings County.