Beautiful Inside and Out

The perfect cake . . .  or is it?

A friend recently celebrated her first wedding anniversary. Following tradition, she and her husband had frozen the top layer of their wedding cake to eat on their anniversary. They pulled the cake out of the freezer and admired the beautiful swirls of frosting preserved in perfection.

But when they cut into the cake, the interior was green instead of snowy white. Something had gone wrong over the last year, and the cake was ruined. It appeared perfect on the outside, but in reality was imperfect on the inside.

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Most of us are like that cake in some form or fashion. We think the outside is what is important. Some of us spend a lot of time focused on how we look to others, but refuse to acknowledge the hurt and pain inside. Some of us pretend everything’s good, not letting people look past our outer layer of perfection. Some of us might put forward a good front, but we feel like the inside of that cake: ruined and unworthy.

We often take this fractured way of seeing ourselves into our relationships. Some of us shy away from closeness, even with Jesus, because we are afraid of what is on our inside. We think, “If people knew I _____, they’d never speak to me again.” We are afraid to deepen our relationship with God because we ask ourselves, “How can Jesus love me when I ______?”

 

The perfect beautiful outside does not make us perfect.

The good news is we don’t have to be perfect inside or out.

Let’s take a look at King David, the person God called a “man after his own heart.” Maybe you’ve heard stories about him. Maybe you haven’t. Here’s a partial bio for this famous king of Israel:

  • David disobeyed God, which resulted in a plague that killed 70,000 people. (2 Sam 24:10-15)
  • David had numerous wives, one of whom hated him, in part because she felt abandoned by him.
  • Even with all those wives, David committed the indiscretion for which he is famous. Basically, David played hooky from the war, lusted after pretty young Bathsheba, got her pregnant, tried and failed to cover it up, and then killed Bathsheba’s husband.
  • David also ignored his children to the point that he did nothing when his son Amnon sexually assaulted a half-sister named Tamar. In retaliation, David’s son Absalom murdered his brother Amnon and then usurped David’s throne.

The thing about David and his heart . . .

David was like that cake. He looked kingly on the outside, but inside he was just as broken as the rest of us.

But David understood repentance. When confronted with his sin and the darkness inside him, he owned his mistakes and turned back to God. He didn’t make excuses for his actions. Once he was on the mat, David surrendered to God. Furthermore, David didn’t wallow. He contemplated and confronted his sins. He grieved his mistakes. Psalm 51 details David’s struggle with sin and his heartfelt conclusion, “God, You will not despise a broken and humbled heart” (Psalm 51:17).

Yet, in his grief, David didn’t obsess over his issues or believe he was ruined forever. He trusted God to forgive him. He joyfully accepted God’s amazing grace. He acknowledged his moldy insides and trusted God for something better–redemption.

That same grace is offered to us. On the cross as Jesus died, he declared, “It is finished.” He used an accounting term meaning the debt was paid in full. The debt to which he referred was our sin, our mistakes. On the cross, God’s grace covered all our moldy spots. We don’t have to hide from God in shame. We don’t have to fear the mistakes we make. We don’t have to feel constant anxiety about our imperfections. And we don’t have to earn our way into God’s good graces.

We can have peace and know that God sees us as beautiful inside and out, moldy spots and all, not because of what we’ve done, but because of what He did.

 

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