Oliver Cromwell was a political and military leader in 17th century England who held the official title “Lord Protector of England.” He once commissioned an artist to paint an official portrait that would enshrine his appearance so that future generations would know what he looked like. It was typical in such portraits for the artist to paint the person’s appearance in a way that made the person more attractive. (We do this same kind of thing today by airbrushing photographs to take out wrinkles, blemishes, pimples, etc.). But as legend famously has it, Cromwell told the artist who was painting him to paint him “warts and all.” Supposedly, that explains the origins of that phrase.
The Bible certainly paints its characters warts and all. Noah gets drunk. Moses kills an Egyptian. David has an affair and sanctions a murder. Peter denies knowing Jesus. Thomas doubts Jesus’ resurrection. Paul is a persecutor of Christians before he becomes one himself. And yet God still uses these men in awesome ways to accomplish His work.
This should provide each of us with great encouragement because, let’s admit it, we’ve all got some warts. Oh, sure, we usually put forth our best face in public, but God knows how we look behind closed doors. He sees all the bad behavior. He hears all the ugly talk. He even knows the deep, dark inner stuff, the stuff that no one else knows but us. Still, though, He will use us in His service if we will let Him.
There’s an old saying that says, “God can hit a straight lick with a crooked stick.” If He couldn’t do that, He’d never hit a straight lick because there are no straight sticks. So, you say you’ve got some issues? Well, join the club. You say your past is marked by sin? Everybody else’s is too. It’s not that I’m making light of your shortcomings or excusing your sins, but I am trying to help you understand that God can still use you in His service. To get in on that you must first get saved by placing your belief in Jesus Christ, the One who died on the cross as the substitutionary sacrifice for your sins. Then you must get up each day and say, “Lord, use me today” and be obedient to whatever He tells you to do. If you do that I guarantee you that He will take you up on the offer. How can I make that guarantee with such confidence? I can do it because if there is one thing that is true about God it’s that He is always short on help.