This is how my dog looks when you mention the word "tubbie".
Now you can't really see too closely from this photo, but she is a little greasy behind the ears, she has two dried chew spots on her back which are covering two scabby places that she chewed, her tail is a little clumpy from her "friendly peeing", and to be honest, right now, she just plain stinks. In fact, if she greeted you from the curb while you were walking on the street, you might think she was just a low down dirty dog!
In actuality, you don't have to know her very long to figure out that inside that somewhat disheveled exterior beats the heart of the sweetest, most loving, most affectionate animal on the face of the earth. If you judged her solely on her exterior, you would miss out on the very pleasurable experience of knowing her and feeling loved by her.
This is my trash can.
Isn't it pretty? So streamline, so clean on the outside. It looks pretty darn good sitting along the curb on Tuesday mornings. We don't have trash bags piled up in a heap, no sir, our trash is neat. Just the can and the recycle bin. It's quite impressive. It really enhances our image as organized and neat people who spare no expense at doing things right! Yep, it's a keeper!
In actuality, as I discovered yesterday, that trash can is full of trash and what's worse--it stinks! Upon investigating further, I discovered a whole pile of trash on the bottom of it that had not been put in bags, therefore the trash man would not empty them. To make matters even worse, at some point the lid had been left open during a rain storm, so there was a few inches of brown, sewer like water laying in the bottom mixed in with the trash. And from the looks and smell of things, those things had been in there for at least a year.
Here is what I discovered: empty plant containers from last years garden, a broken air filter cover from the Scag mower that I broke last summer backing into a ladies tree, multitudes of empty freeze pop papers, about 30 yds. of used weed eater string pieces, a rag that was too disgusting to investigate further, two bags of dog poop that had been broken open from who knows when, a plastic piece off something--it will forever remain a mystery, legos, candy papers, box tops, and other varieties of things that were too small to dig through so I just scooped the whole mess onto a shovel and deposited it into a garbage bag. The smell was so bad that my children--who can lay in the next room and not smell that something is on fire in the kitchen--came to the window to find out what that awful smell was!
Moral of the story-you can't judge a book by it's cover! The short tax collector in scripture didn't look so good on the outside, neither did that widow that gave all she had in the offering plate, but on the inside they were full of goodness. On the other hand, the rich, young ruler was a fine looking speciman of a man and those religious giants of the day, the Pharisees, looked pretty "fine" in their ceremonial robes and self righteous looks, but in reality, they were no better than the inside of my trash can--white washed sepulchres, a stench in the nostrils of God.
I guess what got me thinking about all this was a song I had heard earlier about a traveler slipping into church one Sunday morning not dressed in his Sunday best. The congregation, finely dressed in their Sunday best, paid him no heed, in fact they whispered and made fun. Unfortunately, they never did really find out what was on the inside of the man.
How often do we do the same thing? Do we go and sit with visitors when they come to church? Do we stare and examine their appearance before deciding if we want to bother introducing ourselves? Is our speech full of self righteousness as we get to know them? Do we make them feel loved and as if we are glad that they came?
What about our neighbors? Or co-workers? Do we stop to consider what work the Holy Spirit has been doing in them or do we just see them as a lost cause?
Do we judge a book by it's cover?
If someone examined my life as closely as I examined my dog and the contents of my trash can, what would they find? Would they leave feeling loved and appreciated or would they run the other direction holding their nose?