I must confess that when I see people begging on the street or selling homeless newspapers and they have on nice clean and new looking clothes, I immediately think it’s a scam. “If he was homeless he wouldn’t have on clean clothes,” I tell myself. It’s got to be a scam. What is he trying to pull over on people. Maybe that sounds harsh but think about it, success, accomplishment, even cleanliness, doesn’t go with poverty. So dear beggar, please don’t get all cleaned up to ask me for money, I will assume you are pulling my leg, pretending to be “out of gas,” making a quick buck. But let me see your true condition. Don’t try to impress me with your wealth to get my charity.
In the same way, sinner, don’t think you have to get all cleaned up in order to be accepted by Christ. There is no need to wait until you have fixed yourself, gotten your life together, proved to him your love, or done everything he has asked you. Your cleanliness isn’t access to the throne, your rags are. We make little of his grace when we believe that we have a part to play in our own salvation. Whether it is doing more for his kingdom or getting your life together, there is nothing you can do to convince him to accept you but present your sins to him and thank him for his cleansing blood. It is by grace you have been saved, not by your works, not by your goodness, or your cleanliness, but by his grace and his grace alone. Don’t wait til you’ve done everything you ‘need’ to do before you drop at his feet! Come like the beggar in your tattered clothes and kneel before him. He isn’t impressed with your works or your Sunday best, he isn’t more inclined to save you when you are cleaned up, but asks only for your dirty rags that he might make them white as snow.
“All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.” (Isaiah 64:6)