I recently stayed somewhere that had a sign posted in the room that read…
"Dear Guest, In an effort to conserve water and energy, would you please consider using your towel more than once. Please decide for yourself. A towel on the rack means ‘I’ll use it again.’ While, a towel on the floor or in the tub means ‘Please exchange.’"
It’s a silly sign to be telling you about, but initially it caught my attention because of the phrase "Please exchange." After all, I am on staff with Exchanged Life Ministries. I read that sign numerous times before my trip ended, and as funny as it may sound, that sign spoke to me.
I was reminded of Isaiah 64:6 which says, "For we all have become like one who is [ceremonially] unclean [like a leper], And all our deeds of righteousness are like filthy rags." Seeking to establish ourselves as acceptable and right by our own efforts is like repeatedly hanging the most disgusting towel we can imagine on the rack and saying, "It’s good, I’ll use it again."
Many of us don’t know another way. Even if we’re Christians we may know that we’re forgiven for the wrong we’ve done but now believe we have to prove ourselves to be acceptable. We pull out the scales and attempt to pile up enough good to outweigh the bad. This is self-righteousness and revolting! Just how revolting? I would encourage you to do a little study on what Isaiah actually meant by filthy rags.
Thankfully 2 Corinthians 5:21 lets us know we can leave our towel of self-righteousness on the floor or in the tub, because we’d like to exchange it for a new one. "He made Christ who knew no sin to [judicially] be sin on our behalf, so that in Him we would become the righteousness of God [that is, we would be made acceptable to Him and placed in a right relationship with Him by His gracious lovingkindness]."
What an exchange! Christ takes our rotten towel of self-righteousness and gives to us His pristine white towel of God’s righteousness. A towel dearly bought. Even though He had never known sin, He didn’t just pay the penalty for it, but became sin for us all that we might be made acceptable and placed in right relationship with Him.
So friend, will we, in an effort to conserve or protect ourselves, continue to use our putrid towel of self-righteousness? Or, will we in essence leave that towel and all that it represents on the floor or in the tub emphatically stating, "Please God, exchange my self won towel for Christ’s won towel!"
As marvelous as this exchange is, God will not force us into it dictating the decision we should make. He’ll respect us, making us aware of each of option, and then simply ask, "Please, decide for yourself."
If I can encourage you in any way please don’t hesitate to contact me. Also, if the topic of righteous interests you, our conference is a great place to learn more. Aside from that, our web site (elmco.org) is available 24/7 and full of resources.
Never be surprised at what God may use to speak to you! (Numbers 22:21-39)
Mike Roncaglia, Executive Director