“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which on the outside look beautiful, but inside they are full of the bones of the dead and of all kinds of filth” (Matthew 23:27).


I’ve ended up on all sorts of catalog mailing lists. Most of the stuff I’m sent goes in the recycle bin, but one I really enjoy is called “Improvements.” Flipping through the latest issue the other day, I discovered a true must-have, and at a reasonable price, too! It was a counter-top scrap container (“Compost Crock”) featuring a filtered lid to keep everything from getting smelly and messy. For only $24.99, I could have one in white ceramic, and for just $15.00 more, my crock would grace my kitchen in shiny stainless steel. For a picture (and to confirm that I am not just pulling your leg), see http://www.improvementscatalog.com/product/compost-crocks.do.


Oh, come on! They can’t be serious! $40 for a can to put banana peels, rotten fruit, potato peels, and coffee grounds in until they’re ready to go out to the compost pile? We use a large recycled molded plastic coffee can with a snap lip and a handle and keep it under the sink. Before that, the container was an old ice cream bucket.


How many of us are much like that pricey crock? We look great (or try to) on the outside and put ourselves on display as if we’re “all that.” We do and buy things to gain prestige and to make our neighbors envious. But inside we’re as unappealing as those stinky scraps, as broken as eggshells, as rotten as the moldy grapefruit that stayed too long in the refrigerator bin.


There’s a classic Lenten prayer that says in part: “We are misled by pride, for we see ourselves pure when we are stained, and great when we are small.” The result of such an attitude, the prayer implies as it goes on, is that “we have failed in love, neglected justice, and ignored [God’s] truth.”


Those coffee grounds and squishy red peppers, from whatever kind of container we had them in, when turned/tumbled and cooked in the compost pile or barrel become rich soil in which plants and vegetables can take root and grow. In the same way, our sinful pride can by God’s grace be transformed. We can learn to see ourselves differently, as we really are: stinky sinners, yes, but also rich and fertile ground for the seed of God’s Word to take root and grow to his glory.


© 2009 Tom Cheatham