Not a Pretty Picture

I put on my best Super-Nanny impression, "Do you know why you got a time out?" I asked my six year old.

His summary for the punishment for using the window-painting kit after I specifically said, "Not right now," caught me off guard.

"Because I didn't make a beautiful picture?"

He completely overlooked the mess on the walls and curtain and window, not to mention the plain old disobedience he and his brother exhibited. But it kind of broke my heart to hear that he thought I was upset that his artistic efforts didn't meet my expectations.

It was another of those moments where my mom-heart got a glimpse of my Father's heart.

How often do we try and try to "make pretty pictures" to please Him and mistakenly feel the same way when our efforts fall short, when in truth, it's really the sin/evil/wrong in our hearts that grieve and displease Him.

I recently wrote an article about holiness (for the August issue of Exemplify Online). One of the overarching themes I found as I studied the topic is that it isn't our actions that keep us from God's approval, it's our hearts.

It's not that we don't serve in church enough or feed the homeless enough, or read the Bible or pray enough. The problem comes when we do those things looking for brownie points. We serve to look good to those around us. We study the Bible so we can have all the answers with our study group or because we feel like God will look on us with more favor when we do.

In the process, we miss the point that He probably wouldn't care if each day we got nothing more done than feeding our children and keeping them from harm if we do it from a heart of stewardship over the lives He's entrusted to us and the weighty responsibility to raise them "in the fear and admonition of the LORD."

We take our very human tendency to be people-pleasers to an extreme and apply it to our relationship with God too. But in the same way I wasn't concerned with the "beauty" of my sons' artistic attempts, God isn't concerned with the statistics of ministries we lead or hours logged in study.

A friend recently summed it up, "God doesn't care about what we do as much as He cares about who we are." Couldn't have said it better myself!

(Now, does anyone know how to get window paints off walls, curtains and aluminum window frames?)

A warm welcome to Exemplify Online readers! I'd love to know if you stopped by from the magazine.

And to my faithful friends and followers, I'm back from various trips that kept me offline. I'll be doing a much better job keeping up with things around here--there'll be more kids' devotions and recipes, book reviews, and a modified Ruby Tuesdays will return in September. I look forward to reconnecting with you here and at your place(s). I've missed you!


Joyful said...

Mary, I just finished writing about this very thing as I commented on another blog. I want my life to be pleasing to my Lord, but what is my motivation? We tend to measure "great" and "small" by the world's standards and so often I feel I fall short. God always chooses character over competency.

Thanks for this confirmation to my heart,

JennyMac said...

awww...his comment made me want to well up.

Lisa Lewis said...

Mary~I did find you through your article in Exemplify Online. I am thrilled to see your writing published with Exemplify! Your points challenged me and have given me food for thought as I navigate this day. thank you for pointing so clearly away from self and to our holy Triune God!

RefreshMom said...

Joy--I am always blessed when I see God put the same thoughts in someone else's heart at the same time. That confirmation really enhances the insight, doesn't it?

Jenny--I felt the same way! It made me want to make sure he knows I appreciate his efforts, and not just a 'perfect' end result.

Lisa--How fun that you found me through Exemplify! Other friends from SLO stop by too. Welcome, and I look forward to seeing you again (here or on our next visit!).

MyRubySlippersLife said...

almost made me cry.

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