Saturday, September 19, 2015

Covering Our Sins

Photo by CSIRO 2001


A charming, handsome young couple dined at an exclusive, five-star restaurant to celebrate their engagement. The wait staff was most attentive, anticipating their every need, escorting them to their table chosen for the spectacular view, pulling out the chair for the lady to sit, and offering in hushed tones suggestions on the chef’s recommendations.

The waiters presented the first course with panache, exclaiming, “Voila!” at the synchronized moment they removed the silver domes from the plates. The first bites were delectable, so much so that the bride-to-be wanted her fiancé to sample the unique flavors in the quail leg she was enjoying. But, sadly, as she transferred a forkful to his plate, a small dollop of brown sauce found its way onto the pristine white linen tablecloth.

Before they could even fully realize what had happened, a waiter magically appeared and fluffed out a linen napkin as if making a dove fly out of a top hat. He gently laid the napkin atop the stain, and ceremoniously smoothed it into place, emphasizing the gravity of what she had done while covering all evidence of her transgression.

“Always showing off,” her fiancé chided, rolling his eyes, yet they both had enough grace and humor to laugh off the incident and its momentary awkwardness. In fact, they began joking about what would happen if they spilled something else, or continued to make a mess – would the pile of napkins covering the stains grow so thick that it would be like having a phone book on their table?

Or, Heaven forbid, what if he spilled the lobster bisque on his dress shirt – would they tie a napkin around his neck like a bib? Or worse yet, what if she exited the ladies’ room with the back of her skirt stuck in her pantyhose – would a team of waiters have draped her in tablecloths until she could rectify the situation?

It reminded me that grace, forgiveness, and a sense of humor (Proverbs 15:13; 17:22) are invaluable assets in marriage and in life. God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble, and we should all be humbled by His self-sacrificing love and submit to one another in humility (James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5).

We cannot cover up our own sins (Psalm 85:2; Proverbs 28:13; Isaiah 30:1; Romans 4:7), for the truth will be made known (Luke 8:17). Adam and Eve could not cover their nakedness with fig leaves (Genesis 3:7), for only God could do that with animal skins (Genesis 3:21), requiring the first animal sacrifice and atonement of sin through shed blood.

Had the young woman tried to hide her error by pridefully blaming the server or her fiancé, or by dabbing at the spot with her own napkin and soiling two linens, the tension of the moment would have escalated and perhaps even ruined a beautiful, memorable celebration. Instead, the mercy of the waiter and of her fiancé spared her any embarrassment.

The young man in the story set his beloved’s heart at ease by laughing with her in joy and celebration, and poking fun at himself in an imaginary scenario rather than being critical of her mistake. Jesus commanded us to forgive (Matthew 18:21-22) and love one another as He has forgiven and loves us (John 13:34-35; 15:12,17; 1 John 3:11,23; 4:7,11,12; 2 John 1:5).

The apostle Paul later repeated these commandments of Christ to love one another (Romans 12:10; 13:8; Galatians 5:13; 1 Thessalonians 4:9). May we always be considerate, compassionate, and loving toward one another, for self-sacrificing love covers a multitude of sins (Proverbs 10:12; Romans 4:7; 1 Peter 4:8).

This story also brings to mind how in the Old Testament, sins could be covered by the ongoing sacrifices of the priests (Leviticus 4), but never removed (Psalm 32:1; 85:2). Not until Jesus came to earth as the perfect Sacrifice (Hebrews 5), the Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29), could our sins be removed from us as far as the East is from the West (Psalm 103:12).

I wonder if the Old Testament saints shuddered at the thought of the heap of animal remains accumulating as the result of their sins. No matter how diligent they were to carry out the needed sacrifices, on their own behalf, or to cover the sins of their family (Job 1:5) or of their congregation (Numbers 15:25; Hebrews 2:17), it was only a temporary covering. Just like the napkin hiding the gravy stain, a new sacrifice would be required for every additional transgression.

Praise God that when Jesus Christ died on the cross to pay our sin debt in full, He uttered “It is finished!” (John 19:30) because it was! No more sacrifices were needed to cover our sins (Hebrews 10:11-14), for He forever removed born-again believers (John 3:3-8) from the penalty of sin, which is eternal death in hell (Romans 5:21; 6:23).

All those who have trusted in His death, burial and resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) as the only Way to Heaven (John 14:6) will one day be freed even from the very presence of sin, for He has promised us glorified bodies that will never sin, age, die, or experience pain or sorrow  (1 Corinthians 15:35-54).

Though our sins were red as scarlet, He has washed us clean in His shed blood (Psalm 51:2; Revelation 1:5), making us white as snow (Isaiah 1:18), clothing us in His garment of salvation (Isaiah 61:10). The diners in this story could no longer see any evidence of wrongdoing, for the mistake had been covered.

Praise God, once Jesus Christ robes us in His perfect righteousness, God no longer sees our sins, but only the pristine holiness of His Son!


© 2015 Laurie Collett
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8 comments:

  1. Dear Laurie,
    Your story, and the header photo, reminds me of the lovely evening Alex and I sat at a table at an open-air restaurant at Kos, Greece, to celebrate our wedding anniversary in 2011. The air was warm, the stars shone brightly in the night sky, and almost directly under us the waves of the Mediterranean lapped gently.
    As for the sauce spoiling the white table cloth, the covering of the stain is a good illustration of the old sacrificial system, when the person's sins are temporarily covered.
    But however, under the napkin, the stain is still there. The table cloth itself has to be washed to remove the stain completely.
    However, if the stain is so stubborn, that even after several washes, the discolouration remains, then the temporary covering is of no use, and the whole table cloth has to be disposed of.
    An excellent post. God bless.

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    1. Dear Frank,
      Sounds like a wonderful, romantic anniversary celebration! Praise God that our sins no longer have to be covered with sacrifices, for He has removed our sins and replaced them with His righteousness!
      Thanks as always for sharing your insights and experiences.
      God bless,
      Laurie

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  2. Yes Laurie,
    praise God for our lovely Saviour Jesus Christ, and the amazing thing is that when I have been shown verses like Hebrews ch. 6 v. 6 which talks about my wilful sinning crucifying Jesus again, it is part of what helps with my transformation by the renewing of my mind into His image, as spoken of in Romans ch. 12 v. 2.
    God has a wonderful way of changing us through scripture, I would never have been convinced and convicted by my carnal mind to stop sinning, but the thought of crucifying Christ afresh is unbearable and is part of what is changing me.
    God bless.

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    1. Praise God for the convicting, healing, cleansing, transforming power of His Word! We just came from a funeral of a dearly beloved pastor and patriarch who left an amazing legacy of faithfulness. The message was from Rom. 12:1-2. May we dedicate every moment of our lives to praising, worshiping, honoring and serving Him!
      God bless you,
      Laurie

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  3. Great post, Laurie. Thank god he doesn't just cover the sin, but takes it away.

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    1. Amen, Donald! He has removed the sins of those who trust Him as far as the East is from the West.
      God bless,
      Laurie

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