I still recall the struggle. However hard I tried, I couldn’t satisfy my elders with my bed-making. It seemed that I lacked the touch. All my careful caressing to get rid of a wrinkle only seemed to move it to a new location.
Today, since we had the lesson of the Navy Seals’ training,when I think of bed-making I think of them. If everything during the day went awry for them, at least when it was finally time to go to bed, there was their bed in perfect order, ready to welcome them.
A young man told of being the eldest of three, and being taught to do the household chores at an early age because his mother worked away from home. He said he didn’t mind most of the tasks, but nearly every time his mom came through the bedroom, he could depend on hearing: “Herbert, your wrinkles are showing.”
Do you recall what the apostle Paul said about wrinkles? It is in the context of Christ loving the church. How does He express that love?
Ephesians 5:26–27 26that He might sanctify and cleanse her [the church] with the washing of water by the word,
He wants her spotless, perfect in every way. The first process is cleansing, and notice the soap is “the word.” The result:
27that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.
Holy and without blemish: there is the ULTIMATE.
But don’t miss the other statement: He wants her without “spot or blemish, or any such thing.”
Do these sound like small issues? Not in the Master’s view. They are defects that must be removed by one means or another.
So step 1 is: Sanctify and cleanse
Step 2: Present a glorious church
Final description: No spot, no wrinkle, nothing of the kind
It is all part of sanctifying the church, the people, every one must be sanctified.
What does that mean?
Sanctify: To remove from common use; dedicate to the Lord, dedicate to moral purity – Thayer’s and BDAG.
John 17:17 17Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.
Jesus said it about Himself. He too had to be sanctified. What did He say?
John 17:19 19And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.
“Sanctified by the truth.” We are sanctified as we allow the Word of God INSIDE control, changing us from the old creature to the new.
The Word of God will “sanctify and cleanse” – how? As we wash in it.
Oh, the power of God’s word! Paul said it well:
1 Thessalonians 2:13 13For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.
The Word has power because it is “in truth, the Word of God.”
If we believe it, that Word will work in our hearts and effectively cleanse us by showing us where we are wrong.
And the result?
Ephesians 5:27 27that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.
The goal is being presented to Christ glorious and perfect, “holy and without blemish,… not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing.”
What is a spot? It is a stain, a blemish.
What causes a wrinkle? It is an unjustified “pucker.” Something God condemns, where we are neglectful—overlooking—excusing something we ought to make right. It is just easier to let it be. But it is a wrinkle.
For example, hear the apostle James appealing for his people to be peaceable with each other:
James 5:9 9Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned.
You don’t need to grumble, he says. It is a needless complaint about someone or something. You don’t like it? No need to say anything about it, especially in the presence of others. It only breeds discontent and strife.
What does it say to everyone? “Your wrinkles are showing.”
How about bitterness? A small thing, but the command is:
Ephesians 4:31–32 31Let all bitterness … be put away from you, with all malice.32And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another…
ALL bitterness must go.
It is so easy to feel bitter, as though it should not have happened, as though someone had it “in” for us. Bitterness wipes out every kindness you might otherwise feel.
It’s another case of the bed not quite smooth. “Your wrinkles are showing.”
What about the time we are ruffled, when our schedule gets turned inside out—and we feel to give someone, as we would say, a “piece of our mind”? Then we justify it, saying it really wasn’t all that bad!
We only “add sin to sin.”
The Scripture says:
Psalm 119:165 165Great peace have those who love Your law, And nothing causes them to stumble.
In our bedmaking simile, it is just another case of, “your wrinkles are showing.”
What about the time when things just don’t go right? Not really bad, but you are irritated because someone else doesn’t understand you. Or misjudges you.
What does it say about the day that you wanted all lovely and smooth?
“Your wrinkles are showing!” The spiritual “bed-covering” needs more work, more careful smoothing.
Think about that command of Christ:
John 13:34–35 34A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Isn’t this the way to get rid of the wrinkles? Christ-like love is the professional “tug” on the undersheets that will get rid of the CAUSE of the wrinkles. That’s the secret of making it all smooth and neat. All the wrinkles come from “beneath.” James says that too:
James 3:14–16 14But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. 15This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. 16For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.
That’s all it takes for a wrinkle to show: a little envy, a little bitterness, a little self-seeking in our heart, a little pride, enough to cover up the truth.
By way of contrast, what comes from above?
James 3:17–18 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. 18Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
Think about all the wrinkles this wisdom from above gets rid of!
Hear the same from the apostle John:
1 John 2:5–6 5But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. 6He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.
The love of God is shown by “keeping the word”—keeping strictly to God’s law of love. Without it, the wrinkles are sure to show!
When we step outside the bounds of the law, let’s be sure to remember, even if we don’t want to see them, our wrinkles are showing!
Our goal: get rid of the wrinkles. It is a high standard, but Christ will have the BEST. It must be to HIS standard.
That is what we must be if we would belong to Christ’s church that is “without spot or wrinkle or any such thing,” that is “holy and without blemish.”