Recently I was preparing for a dinner party with friends and decided it was time to pull out my silver and china. I’ve had these items for years, but they haven’t made it onto my table as often as I’d have liked. When I opened my silver chest, I realized the result of my neglect—all the forks, spoons, and knives were covered with tarnish.
I tried using a silver polish, but it required diligent scrubbing, after which spots remained. After polishing one piece, I began to think my dinner party could do without silver. However, I realized that if I didn’t clean it now, it’d never be of any use at all. I figured there must be an easier way, so I searched the Internet for ideas. I finally found one that seemed fairly simple.
The website instructed me to line a large bowl with aluminum foil and then fill the bowl with warm water and dish detergent. All I had to do was place the silver in the bowl and wait—somehow the tarnish would be removed.
Somewhat skeptical, I decided it couldn’t hurt to try. I followed the instructions, and after about five minutes, I began to take the silver out of the bowl. Amazingly, the tarnish was gone and the cutlery shined with its original beauty. I couldn’t believe it worked. It seemed too easy.
After I washed and dried all the pieces, I emptied the bowl and noticed the remaining aluminum foil. When I placed it in the bowl, it was shiny and clean. Now, as I removed the foil, it was dirty and dingy. All the tarnish from my silver had somehow transferred to the aluminum foil. The silver could shine brightly because the aluminum foil had taken its tarnish.
As I looked at the aluminum foil and glanced again at my bright, shiny, and clean silver, I realized how even this chemical reaction—how it worked, I have no idea—displays the beauty of the gospel.
Just like my silver, we’re tarnished with sin. No amount of scrubbing or work can get us to reflect the glory that was once ours. Our sin must be transferred to someone else in order for us to shine again.
And, that’s exactly what Jesus did for us. Paul explains in 2 Corinthians 5:21: “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” Just as the aluminum foil took on the tarnish (even though it previously had none), Jesus took on our sin so we might shine for the glory of God.
It seems too easy, doesn’t it? We keep thinking we need to scrub ourselves clean, but He’s made us clean, once for all, by His blood (Heb. 10:10–14). How do we respond? We are called to shine. We shine His glory by loving His truth, walking in His ways, and living in obedience to His commands—all for the display of His splendor (Isa. 61:3). There’s no better way to live.