A painter decided the effort of some of his technique was not worth the trouble any longer; that no one would notice if he took a few shortcuts in the way he mixed the color and layered it on the canvas.
He started out by taking just a few less strokes and using a little less effort and concentration, but he slowly let it become habitual. His paintings were done quicker, and his art gallery full of new and vibrant works.
At a showing, he found himself bragging that he had ‘improved’ upon his ability and was now much more adept at painting than he had ever been before. He enjoyed the newfound freedoms of more time to do what he wanted, and began to spend his money a little more.
He took a few trips, bought a few items, nothing too extravagant. Returning to his work seemed to draw him a little less than it had previously. He found it easy to make a few little excuses and to call something acceptable that he would have considered unfinished before.
He had some negative critiques, but he seemed to still attract buyers so he was not really concerned. He rationalized that the critics were always looking for ways to get a story. He saw a few orders dropped, but overall he was quite comfortable and satisfied. He began to lose interest in new innovations, and painted what the buyers were most drawn to.
His friends called him ‘commercialized’ and ‘a sell-out’ to his amusement and disbelief. A visit from a previous buyer was not quite so amusing. The older woman pointed to his latest works with disdain, and in a tone of flat disapproval she explained some of the flaws in his paintings. He was unable to find words to smooth over her very accurate assessment.
A year later the painter’s studio was damaged by smoke and heat from a fire on the floor below. The insurance assessor valued his losses well below what the painter felt reasonable. He protested, using data from previous sales and auctions; but the assessor just smiled. He showed the painter a number of photographs. Apparently he was very aware of the artist’s work and had done his research. The only paintings he counted as valuable were three paintings made several years prior. “The rest” said the assessor, “were simply valued for the canvas.”
Moral of the story:
12 Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.
In Matthew 3:12 there is a very sharp warning that I had to struggle with to write about. Not only is it pointing out a future that is dire, it also points out there is a measuring or assessing of value to our actions we may believe are good. This story demonstrated someone going through
the motions and believing no one would notice.
How many times do I put my heart behind something, and how many more times do I go through the motions? If I am really sincere I have to admit that the judge of mankind is not a fool. He may be gentle, His burden light, but He is not impressed by good intentions, lofty ideals, or the appearance of devotion. Sincerity and love should be my primary reason for any action I take to praise or serve God.