Multiplying Ugly

I laughed until I cried when I read, “The Invalid’s Story” by Mark Twain.

He tells of a man who was called to another city to accompany the body of an old friend to still another city for burial. This was probably the late 1800’s.

Somehow, workers confused the rough casket with a gunbox and put the gunbox in the baggage car of the train. The casket went somewhere else.

To complicate matters, just before the train pulled out someone slipped into the baggage car to leave some horrible smelling cheese they didn’t want to keep with them in the passenger car.

Our hero and the train conductor talked familiarly as the train pulled out but as the baggage car warmed up they noticed a peculiar smell. They put two and two together and decided that the dead friend was getting ripe.

They tried all kinds of perfume, tobacco, and anything they could think of to kill the smell but it just mixed with it and made it worse. The last scene finds them whipped, in broken health because of their adventure.

Sometimes it’s better to leave well enough alone.

We see lots of modern illustrations of this. Folks who are really ugly will try to improve things by growing a ponytail and a Fu Manchu mustache and getting a tattoo of their mama stenciled onto their belly and their arms.

But, you’ve got to be careful. Instead of bettering matters, you may make them worse. I never thought ladies looked good in Fu Manchu mustaches, anyway.

You may just be multiplying ugly.

Have you ever had to go somewhere and you didn’t have time to shower? So, you lathered on some great, long-lasting deodorant?

Careful. After a couple of hours that stuff goes over to the enemy. It combines with your sweat and the results are breath-taking. Bees quit buzzing when they get near you. Flies spiral to the earth and lie in a senseless heap at your feet.

At least you don’t have to worry about mosquitoes.

Honestly, though, you simply multiplied your problem.

Multiplying Problems With God

Lots of people deal with God like that. Down deep they sense they’re lost and need to be saved. They don’t want to humble themselves and admit they need God’s help. So, they get to work.

“Looky there! I helped that little old lady across the road. I’m a good person.” Or, “I live a pretty good life. I’m no worse than anyone else.”

So, basically they are saying, “Jesus, I don’t need your sacrifice on the Cross for my sins. I’m doing pretty well. Go save someone who’s really bad. I’m doing pretty well. I don’t need you.”

You know what God says about that attitude?

“But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away.” Isa 64:6

You’re just multiplying your problem, covering it with a veneer of proud self-righteousness. God says that all have sinned and come short of his glory. It’s not you’re neighbor that you’ll be measured against, but the glory and the justice of God himself!

“But, no one can stand up under that kind of scrutiny!” you yelp. Good sinner, bad sinner, we’re all in need of the Lord and his salvation. That was the goal you see.

“For God has committed them all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all.  Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!” Rom 11:32

God condemned us all as the sinners we were, so that he could exercise mercy on everyone who called on the Name of His Son Jesus in faith. Now, he can forgive not only “little sinners” but also “big sinners.”

And these “little sinners” have to swallow their pride and their attitude that proclaims that they don’t need God, in order to come, in the same way that big sinners who have no doubt that they’ve got to have help must come.

When we “little sinners” think we’re good in ourselves because of our tiny good deeds we miss the mark completely. We’re using filthy rags to try to better a bad situation. And the results aren’t pretty.

So, if you haven’t committed your life to the Lord, why not pray from the bottom of you heart and tell the Lord you need him to forgive you and save you. Quit trying to work your way there.

All you’re works are doing is multiplying ugly.



“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative and creativity there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans:

That the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too.” W.H. Murray, a Scottish mountain climber and writer, cited by Michael Hyatt.

What did kids do to protect themselves from parents before This website, which exposes urban legends and crazy emails purporting all kinds of untrue things, would be death on some of the stories my parents told me.

“You see, there’s this big fat guy in a red suit, riding in a sleigh filled with toys, who squeezes down the chimney and brings you great presents on Christmas morning,”
my parents would say to little wide-eyed David, Wanda, and Charley.

And for a while we believed them!

Snopes would have fixed that. I could have checked it out and Snopes would probably have said something like, “False. Urban legend started many centuries ago … blah, blah, blah … and Santa Claus is really daddy.” Aha! I suspected that.

Or did you ever hear the story about how a great way to pull a loose tooth from an innocent little kid’s mouth is to tie a string around the tooth and the other end to a doorknob? The you slam the door.

I used to hear that story when I was losing my baby teeth. We discussed it in school, though I’m not sure I ever knew anyone who had it done to them. Parents always suggested it. In my heart it seemed possible, but I wasn’t ready to try it. Can you imagine the pain at the moment the door pulled the tooth?

Gives me the willies just thinking about it.

Probably Snopes would have said: “Usually false. A story invented to scare little kids into letting fathers or mothers yank the dangling tooth (so they wouldn’t swallow it in their sleep and cause great internal damage).”

How is it that we’ll put up with pain or inconvenience when we know there is a solution—it’s just that for a moment the solution hurts and we’re afraid of that pain more than the pain that dogs us each day?

Dangling Tooth

Pride reminds me of that dangling tooth. Have you ever had something that hurt you and the Holy Spirit whispered, “You’re pain comes from pride and an attitude that revels in feeling sorry for yourself and defending yourself. Let me yank that pride from your life.”

You’re tempted, because frankly, there’s nothing much more miserable than offended conceit, but it also feels good to blubber awhile. “Poor old me. They don’t appreciate me. I should have gotten that place, or they don’t respect me, or they just chose that person because he’s the son of someone important, or ‘God, why do you promote that person and leave me here in such a little, insignificant spot?’”

Sure it’s miserable but you find that you’ve developed a pride reaction lifestyle. I had a friend once, who was one of the nicest guys around. I didn’t see him for awhile then when I got to know him again, he was different. “I don’t let people run over me anymore!” he said.

Actually, I don’t think I had ever seen anyone try to run over him.

But now they sure didn’t disrespect him. Running over him was difficult because you could hardly get around him without him blowing up. It was like he was surrounded by a minefield and his pride was constantly going off. I like the old fellow much better.

We have an awful time admitting that pride inspires our reactions and we call it all kinds of other names to camouflage it, but when we’re honest with ourselves, we know.

Proud people don’t realize it but they don’t win respect by fighting for it. They end up with an opponent that they didn’t even know was against them.

“”God opposes the proud…” (1 Pi. 5:4)

Whoa! You mean if I get lifted up and act in pride that God Himself becomes my opponent? Yup. That’s what it says.

But read the rest of the verse:

“… but gives grace to the humble.”

Boy, if there’s anything I want and need, it’s God’s grace.

Getting that pride pulled out hurts terribly but oh, how good it feels afterwards! The pain is gone.

Probably our number one sin battle—if you go to the root—is waged against pride. And it’s a daily fight, not just a one- time affair. Just like you constantly have to trim the grass, and your hair, nails–and nose hairs–you constantly have to battle against the nasty intruder of pride.

But it better than looking up to see God opposing you, isn’t it?