Grass Painting!

The Southwest has experienced a rough summer of drought conditions and extremely high temperatures. As we were making our way out of the Great State of Texas, after three weeks of catching up with family and friends, we listened to a Waco radio station forecasting another dry and hot day. The weatherman said that they had already registered 49 consecutive days without any measurable precipitation. Sadly, we observed this to be the case for many under the heat dome that had its grip on several states in the lower forty-eight.

"Lipstick on a Pig?"😉
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We spent most of our time in the Austin area during our visit and watched station KXAN for the evening news. I was captivated and somewhat amused during one of the nightly newscasts by a unique service being offered. As would be expected with the adverse weather conditions, some lawn care businesses were trying to service their customers and recoup some of their seasonal losses with a unique addition to their regular services -“grass painting!”

We witnessed our own son lamenting the toll that the drought and area water restrictions had taken upon his lawn grass. He was only able to water by hose during off-daylight hours. As a result, his yard had lost its springtime luster. The flowers were stressed, and the grass was lying dormant with a brownish color under the Texas sun.

I thought, during the news program, that the idea of painting the brown grass a vibrant green was ingenious! However, upon further reflection, I had to ask myself why residents were contracting for such illusions and pretense? I could only conclude that it was either obsession or vanity! I thought immediately about the old saying, “You can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig!”

In the little town where I spent my first eighteen years, such practices might have gotten you “run out of town!” My dad and his peers regularly assessed actions like “grass painting” (something we had never heard of to begin with!) in a sweeping category they dismissively characterized as “That’s not real!” Reality went for a premium in our part of the country!

Jesus had a lot to say against hypocrisy and vanity. One of the objects of his disdain for pretense were the Pharisees who represented the elitist religious establishment of His day. During his most popular sermon Jesus said, “When you do something for someone else, don’t call attention to yourself. You’ve seen them in action, I’m sure – ‘playactors’ I call them – treating prayer meeting and street corner alike as a stage, acting compassionate as long as someone is watching, playing to the crowds. They get applause, true, but that’s all they get.” (Matthew 6:2, MSG).

The Lord is looking for transparency and reality in His disciples. He longs for sincere service from the heart and not shallow playacting to a crowd. Jesus desires true character rooted in the quality that “we are who we are” even when (and especially when!) no one is looking!

Let’s work on genuine praying and compassionate acts of serving that are Holy Spirit inspired. I’m convinced that when we are being real in Christ others will see it and want to know more about the Lord we serve.

Mike Keppler, retired pastor,

active churchman and
doting grandparent.



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