Pigs And Perfume: Whitewashing a Tomb

My dad had a lot of “sayings.”

He seemed to have an adage for nearly any circumstance. Most were funny, many weren’t suitable for this blog or any other polite company.

One of his favorites was “pouring perfume on a pig.”

After he retired, Dad once served as an expert witness for an attorney in a highly technical legal proceeding. To Dad’s eye, the facts were clear and reasonable minds ought to look at what happened and agree on an obvious resolution.

Lawsuits, of course, aren’t that simple. The lawyer tried hard to justify all the years of expensive legal wrangling to Dad, who not-so-politely told him it was all a big pile of “stuff.”

“It’s just your way of sucking more money from these poor people,” he said, “and all your fancy words don’t make it stink any less. You’re just pouring perfume on a pig.”

Dad believed in telling it like he saw it. He wasn’t a church guy, but he and Jesus would have agreed on the painful results of hypocrisy. In fact, Jesus used His own colorful metaphor for the religious teachers who covered their dead teaching with fancy words.

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.” Matthew 23:27-28

In first-century Israel, a tomb was a stinking, rotting place—about as nasty as it gets. You could paint it and make it look good, as long as nobody inspected too closely. Because no amount of surface paint could conceal the systemic stench.

Whitewashing a tomb was as effective as pouring perfume on a pig.

Jesus condemned false religious piety, but there are other forms of everyday hypocrisy in which we all engage.

We’re often not very real…about pain, about doubt, about what we don’t know. We cover it with whitewash or perfume or fancy words. We pretend, we fake it, we present what we’re sure the world expects to see.

We paint ourselves with false happiness at church. We douse ourselves with cheap cologne, hoping to mask the scent of broken relationships, physical struggles, financial challenges, and personal darnkess rotting just beneath the surface.

We pretend no one sees what we’re hiding as we scramble to pour more perfume and splash more paint.

But they do see, because pouring perfume on a pig doesn’t change the pig.

What do you think might happen if we just stopped hiding?

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Copyright 2008-2012 by Rich Dixon, All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.Rich is an author and speaker. He is the author of: Relentless Grace: God’s Invitation To Give Hope Another Chance. Visit his web site www.relentlessgrace.com

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