Have you ever thought about the difference between paint and stain? A couple of years ago we needed to refinish the outside of our mountain cabin. The contractor said we could either paint it or stain it. I asked, “What’s the difference?”
“Lots,” he responded. “Paint gives you a brighter, shinier finish. But it is just a covering that sits on the surface and hides all the flaws in the wood. Stain, on the other hand, soaks into and becomes part of the wood. It doesn’t hide the flaws in the wood. It highlights them and brings out the beauty of the knotholes and grain.”
We went with the stain. But his explanation has stayed with me, and God has a way of bringing it up when I am struggling with my faith walk. As a Christian, do I paint, or do I stain? Do I try to cover up all that stuff I don’t want God and others to see? Or am I willing to allow God’s Word to sink deep into my heart and become part of who I am?
Painting lacks authenticity. It means I just want to appear sparkling bright and have all my flaws hidden from the outside world. But when I agree to be stained, I give the Holy Spirit permission to become one with me, to transform me from the inside, and use me—knotholes, grain, and all.
We live in a materialistic world, and this paint or stain question often plays out in how we approach money and generosity. Our painter side may dutifully give some money, but often holds back because we want that money for something else the world says we need. However, choosing stain allows God’s spirit of grace and generosity to guide our money decisions. Generosity is a faith decision not a money transaction, and staining allows generosity to sink into our being and transform us into the image of Jesus, and not the world.
Our church’s operating budget year ends on August 31. Won’t you please pray about whether you want to be a paint person or a stain person. Painting is just a cover-up. Staining is transformative. Go with the stain.
Andy Raub – Director of Generosity