Beyond a Pious Paint Job

In Sermon Ideas by Rachel Schultz

Beyond a Pious Paint Job


Key Passage: “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?” Isaiah 58:6,7Key Thought: We lead lives of spiritual integrity when we place our hand in the hand of God and reach out to help others.


Scripture: Isaiah 58

Idea: Spiritual integrity involves a whole lot more than putting on religious appearances, attending Sabbath services, maintaining orthodox doctrines, and being politically correct. Spiritual integrity is being in a personal relationship with Jesus that expresses itself in compassionate ministry to those in need.

Story: The Queen Mary is a one-of-a-kind luxury liner. When it was launched back in 1936 it was the largest ship of its kind. For more than forty years it carried travelers and soldiers, and then in the late 1970s it was retired and anchored as a floating hotel and museum in Long Beach, California. During the conversion process the three massive smokestacks were gently hoisted into the air and laid on the dock. As soon as contact was made, the smokestacks simply fell apart. There was nothing left to the ¾ inch steel plate. All that remained was the thirty some coats of paint that had been applied down through the years. The steel had simply rusted away.

The people of Isaiah’s day were little more than a pious paint job. They were religious people—at least on the outside. The reality was that they snapped at each other. They took advantage of the weak. They were dishonest in their business dealings. They even got into fist fights at church. They stood by while the city of Jerusalem literally fell apart.

In an effort to reverse their fortunes, they started playing “Let’s make a deal with God.” They padlocked their refrigerators and let their stomachs growl. They fell down on their knees and let the crocodile tears flow. They went through all the motions without dealing with the real issues. And when God did not come through for them, they began to wonder what on earth was wrong with the God of Heaven.

It was then that God spoke to the people through Isaiah about the things that go into a life of spiritual integrity:

Social justice: Addressing the social issues of our times. Doing right because it is right.
Feeding the hungry: Hunger is not only a global problem, it is epidemic in America as well.
Caring for the homeless: Too many people sleep in their car, or worse.
Clothing people: Many need clothes and blankets in the face of natural disasters and war.
Caring for our families: Don’t forget about the people who are closest to you.

When we lead lives of spiritual integrity, we will have radiant faces, vibrant health, a positive reputation in the community, a total sense of well-being, prayers that get through, and Sabbath celebrations that truly cheer the heart.

Submitted by Dan Martella. Better Sermons © 2005-2007. Click here for usage guidelines.