Is your slip showing? Years ago, dresses were usually single-layered, and a woman was not considered appropriately dressed without a slip underneath. Yet, as hemlines rose and fell each fashion season it was common to find yourself wearing a dress that was shorter than the slip beneath it, giving rise to the embarrassing scenario of being the recipient of an observation such as, “pardon me, but your slip is showing.” These days, with attached undergarments and various other inventions of couture, this is no longer as much an issue, yet it is ironic that there are times when it is not our slips, but our sins, that are showing.
“Some men’s sins are clearly evident, preceding them to judgment, but those of some men follow later.” (I Timothy 5:24)
In his letter to Timothy, St. Paul observed that some people’s transgressions are so out in the open that they are observable by all. We think of public outbursts of anger, embezzlement, boasting, illicit affairs of public officials, and many more–any sins either committed in public or made public through voluntary or involuntary disclosure. Conversely, he said, there are people who do not “wear their sins on their sleeves,” so to speak, but who, nonetheless, harbor hidden offenses. Jesus addressed this very issue Himself:
“What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs—beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity. Outwardly you look like righteous people, but inwardly your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness.” (Matthew 23:27-28 NLT)
While His comments were directed to the first century Pharisees of Palestine, Christ’s condemnation can be equally applicable to any of us today who make a pretense of looking good on the outside, but have not cleaned up our insides by harboring secret sins. And this, quite frankly, is easier than we might imagine.
The problem with us human beings is that we truly are born with a sin nature. In the absence of a genuine and all-encompassing love for Christ, we instinctively gravitate toward sin. Our insides yearn for something to complete us, to fill us, to satisfy us. Trying to fill the longing in our souls, we go looking for all the wrong things in all the wrong places, and end up miserable and dissatisfied. This is because we cannot simply clean up our insides and be good–we have to fill ourselves up with God. That pristine white cup which is us cannot be left empty; it will be filled, either with a love for God, or sin.
So, is your slip showing? In the end, what matters is not whether we put on a good show–whether our sins are visible to others–or not. What matters to God–which is the ultimate criteria of what is really important–is whether we’re right with Him!
Help us have neither sins clearly evident preceding us to judgement, not those following later. Rather, help us love You so much that there is no room for any sin! Amen.