Take an artist’s palette, a brush, paint of various hues, a bit of water, and a canvas. Now add the artist, along with an almost infinite amount of time and patience. And watch, as the artist carefully dips the brush, first in one color, then in another, and touches lightly the piece of canvas. Then he pauses to study what he has done. What is happening: A concept is being translated into a masterpiece.
Men call it a masterpiece when it pleases their notion of beauty, and it is ever changing across centuries, across cultures, across time. God calls it a masterpiece when it meets His measure of beauty, His holiness, His perfection. And it never changes. It is the standard of His creation, the standard of His holiness, a character that is like Himself.
What makes that holiness, that loveliness, that quality of beauty? It starts with a sense of all we owe to Him. What did Paul say?
Acts 17:28 28for in Him we live and move and have our being…
We need more and more to see our lives as God sees them. We need more of this inner reverence, this deep gratitude for the life He has given us, and a stronger sense of our debt to God. This is what separates a committed life from one that exists wholly apart from Him.
David’s hymnbook is filled with expressions of this inner beauty. He extols the beauty of holiness.
Psalm 96:6–9 6Honor and majesty are before Him; Strength and beauty are in His sanctuary. 7Give to the Lord, O families of the peoples, Give to the Lord glory and strength. 8Give to the Lord the glory due His name; Bring an offering, and come into His courts. 9Oh, worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness! Tremble before Him, all the earth.
Many people worship the holiness of beauty. God wants the beauty of holiness. It is a quality of character that God is looking for. That is why David sets it at the center of worship. “Tremble before Him,” he says. Come with trembling regard.
Imagine that you are the artist, and you want to paint a masterpiece of noble character on the canvas of your life. Where do you start? What color do you need first on your palette? Start here, with this color:
#1) A spirit of humble, trembling regard for God.
Look again at that psalm:
Psalm 96:8-9 8Give to the Lord the glory due His name; Bring an offering, and come into His courts. Oh, worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness! Tremble before Him, all the earth.
God doesn’t compel. He invites. And when we look at the vast wonders of His creation and His ability, aren’t we drawn with trembling regard to God’s greatness, His awesomeness, His almighty power?
What do we learn from the book of Job about seeking God?
Job 5:8–9 8“But as for me, I would seek God, And to God I would commit my cause— 9Who does great things, and unsearchable, Marvelous things without number.
Again, we recognize what God does: “great things, and unsearchable.”
The Psalmist had the same regard for God’s greatness:
Psalm 145:1–3 1I will extol You, my God, O King; And I will bless Your name forever and ever. 2Every day I will bless You, And I will praise Your name forever and ever. 3Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; And His greatness is unsearchable.
Unsearchable greatness. This thinking is fundamental to having reverence for God. It is the spirit God wants to see in us. Not a spirit of “look at me,” or “I know a few things for myself,” but “God, my life is Yours. Your will be done.” This is the spirit that is always eager for another lesson, ready to bow or bend in obedience and submission, anxious to serve or give as God wills.
Such a life is already taking on beauty, the beauty of holiness. It is a quality that has in its very nature the grace of goodness.
Is this the beginning of a masterpiece? Exactly!
What is the next color we need on our palette?
#2) The true wisdom or knowledge of God
Where shall we find it? Job did a serious search for it. Recall his report?
Job 28:12–19 12“…Where can wisdom be found? And where is the place of understanding?
Watch out, Job says, for the dead ends!
13Man does not know its value, Nor is it found in the land of the living. 14The deep says, ‘It is not in me’; And the sea says, ‘It is not with me.’ 15It cannot be purchased for gold, Nor can silver be weighed for its price. 16It cannot be valued in the gold of Ophir, In precious onyx or sapphire. 17Neither gold nor crystal can equal it, Nor can it be exchanged for jewelry of fine gold. 18No mention shall be made of coral or quartz, For the price of wisdom is above rubies. 19The topaz of Ethiopia cannot equal it, Nor can it be valued in pure gold.
Most things in this world can be bought if you have enough money. But not true wisdom!
After all this searching, what does Job conclude?
Job 28:20 20“From where then does wisdom come? And where is the place of understanding?
Job 28:28 28And to man He said, ‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, And to depart from evil is understanding.’ ”
Only ONE source for this color, this wisdom that will make life beautiful. It comes only from heaven, along with reverence for God, “the fear of the Lord.” No wonder David said,
Psalm 111:10 10The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His commandments. His praise endures forever.
One more color on your palette, and you have everything you need.
#3) Godly virtue of every kind.
This color is made up of many shades and hues of virtues—love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, forbearance, goodness, faith, temperance, brotherly kindness—all to be carefully and perfectly combined, each in proper measure. James says it well:
James 3:17 17But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.
Christian living is more than adhering to a code of do’s and don’ts. It is the delicate combining of reverence for God with a willing and eager desire to obey. Samuel summarized it well:
1 Samuel 12:24 24Only fear the Lord, and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you.
In that text are REVERENCE (fear the Lord) and KNOWLEDGE (serve Him in TRUTH) plus a HEART of gratitude and virtue.
Take these elements on your palette, combine them with precision and prayer, fit them to the pattern God provides. Add a sufficient amount of time, patience and mercy. Let the angel of God watch over it, guide it, and subject it to the disciplines of life, and what will you have?
A masterpiece, fashioned mentally and morally after the divine image!
It is a heavenly design. And when God adds His eternal dimension, it will be recreated ultimately in His image, after His likeness, a partaker of the divine nature physically. Immortal like the angels of God, part of His heavenly family.
It is the glory and honor of immortality, the blessing God commanded, even “life for evermore”!