Isaiah 64:6 (ESV)
We have all become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.
We all fade like a leaf,
and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
The 80-year-old woman, a member of Sanctuary of Mercy Catholic Church in Zaragoza, Spain, was upset.
She was upset because moisture was playing havoc with a beloved church fresco of Christ, which had been painted by the famous artist Elias Garcia Martinez. Without asking for permission, and with the best of intentions, the lady scraped away at the paint -- a scraping which left the underlying white plaster show through.
Seeing the painting was not any better for her efforts, the lady -- still with the best of intentions -- grabbed her paintbrush and painted over the old painting with her rendition of the Christ.
It was all done with the best of intentions, but since the lady could hardly be called an "artist," the picture is now a disaster. That's terribly tragic because money had just become available to restore and protect the fresco.
Experts are discussing whether such a restoration is possible, or if the church will be forced to hang a picture of the painting to cover the ruined original.
It all goes to show that sometimes even the best of intentions is not good enough.
That's a lesson the Bible teaches again and again. Wanting to be like God, Adam and Eve had good intentions when they ate the forbidden fruit. Abraham had good intentions when he fathered Ishmael. If we could visit with Judas, he might even claim he had good intentions when he betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.
The truth is our best intentions and efforts aren't ever good enough to save us. Knowing we are helpless is really a shot to our human egos and intelligence. That's because we want to be in control and will do just about anything to avoid having to depend on the Lord for our salvation. The best we can do will never improve on God's plan. That's what Isaiah was saying when he was inspired to write, "all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment."
Still, salvation and reconciliation will only be completed when a repentant heart trusts in the substitution and sacrifice of the Savior. Only by faith can we be saved.
That's the great truth of Scripture. It is God's truth which cannot be improved upon, even if someone thinks he has the best of intentions.
Dear Lord, forgive our hearts, which although well intentioned are often arrogant. Forgive us for thinking we can do better in the work of salvation than You. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.