A number of years ago I was hiking along the Salmon River and came across a grove of pine trees that had been partially stripped of their bark. I knew from a friend who is a forester that the Native Americans who hunted this area long ago had peeled the outer bark and harvested the underlying layer for chewing gum. Some of the scars were disfiguring, but others, filled with crystallized sap and burnished by wind and weather, had been transformed into patterns of rare beauty.
So it is with our transgressions. We may be scarred by the sins of the past. But those sins, repented of and brought to Jesus for His forgiveness, can leave behind marks of beauty.
Some people, having tasted the bitterness of sin, now loathe it. They hate evil and love righteousness. Theirs is the beauty of holiness.
Others, knowing how far they fall short (Rom. 3:23), have tender hearts toward others. They rise up with understanding, compassion, and kindness when others fail. Theirs is the beauty of humility.
Finally, when acts of sin are freely and thoroughly forgiven it leads to intimacy with the One who has shown mercy. Such sinners love much for much has been forgiven (Luke 7:47). Theirs is the beauty of love.
All His wonderful passion and purity!
O Thou Spirit divine, all my nature refine,
Till the beauty of Jesus be seen in me. —Orsborn