Personal goodness not enough to save us

I am sure that I share many growing up experiences with other baby boomers my age. Many things in many areas of our lives are different in 2011.

Think about cleaning supplies. In stores we now can find throw away wipes, cleaning sheets with the cleaning mixtures already in them and dust mops with special fiber attachments that “attract all the dust.” I can remember a time when my mother carried a wet wash cloth so we could use it on trips for personal cleanup. Back then there were no items like “wet ones” on the market.

Mother was always set on saving money on cleaning supplies and that meant saving it in any way she could. One of the things she did was to make old towels into dishrags and cleaning cloths to be used around the house. When our towels because limp and flimsy, they were headed for the rag drawer. When those old towels got so worn out they were of no use in the bathroom, Mother cut them up and used them for rags. We used rags everyday and they could be used over and over by washing them time and time again.

Yet, sometimes even those rags were so far gone they could not be used again. When my father changed the oil in the car, those old oil rags were thrown into the trash. When my daddy shined his shoes for Sunday morning, he used them about two times and then those old rags with black shoe polish went into the garbage under the kitchen sink. When Daddy worked on the lawnmower, those oily rags were trash bound. There were those times when Daddy had the chance to go fishing. Daddy would use rags in his clean up and those fishy rags were taken to the trash. Mother didn’t want to wash a bunch of fishy smelling rags.

Daddy would use old rags for messy jobs and then in the trash the rags went. They were useless because the filth they held could not be washed out.

Perhaps this rag incident of my childhood has a point for us today. The Bible says that we are like filthy rags. We are filthy with sin. Isaiah 64:6 puts it this way: “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.”

Our own goodness is not good enough for God. Jesus warned the Pharisees that just trying to do good and act religious is not good enough either. Jesus said it this way: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.” (Matthew 23:27)

Knowing that Christ saves us not because of what we do but only because of his mercy for us is the vital issue. Christ washed us from our sins with His own blood. Revelation 1:5 reads. “Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood.”

No matter what we do in life, our own personal works will not save us. In God’s eyes we all need help and anything we do or claim to be is of no consequence unless we have been washed in the blood of Jesus. Jesus is the only way by which any of us can be saved.

Moreover, he is the only standard by which we can measure our words and deeds. Otherwise, all our good works are as filthy rags indeed.

Judy Brandon is a Clovis resident. Contact her at:

cbrandon@plateautel.net