Eleanor Roosevelt was a formidable woman. She became an early icon for independent women across the nation and around the world, as she spent much of her husband’s presidency touring the country on his behalf after he was confined to a wheelchair. She was an admired and much loved first lady.
What she was not, was a classic beauty. That fact was not lost on my opinionated great-grandfather.
“That Eleanor Roosevelt is no beauty,” he’d say. “Ugly as sin.”
My great-grandmother would scold him, “Sam, the woman can’t help how she looks.”
“Well, she could stay home more,” was his reply.
Ugly as sin. That’s quite an indictment. Sin is genuinely ugly and what it does to us is ugly. It separates us from God. It becomes the great divide that keeps us from Him.
Before I was born again I knew about Jesus, but had no personal relationship with Him. I knew the Bible stories and the cast of larger-than-life characters, but I did not know Him.
A high school classmate (who later became my husband) challenged me on a regular basis, quizzing me about my faith, asking me what I believed. I was baffled. And I was angry. I had grown up in church, gone to Sunday School, Vacation Bible School and Youth Group. How could I not know the answers to these questions?
The question that really got me was this one: “Have you asked Jesus to forgive you of your sins?”
What sin? I was 17 years old, a good kid, didn’t drink or do drugs. I didn’t have any sin! This guy is some fanatical holy roller, I remember thinking.
So he sat me down and showed me what it said in the Bible. My Bible.
“He has rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son He loves. We have redemption, the forgiveness of sins, in Him,” Colossians 1:13-14 (HCSB).
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” Romans 3:23 (NKJV).
The Bible says that??? So we’ve all sinned. I’m a sinner. What a revelation that was to me. He took us out of the darkness and we are redeemed, forgiven of our sin if we are in Him. So now I was convinced, I indeed was a sinner. How do I remove the ugliness of the sin that keeps me from fellowship with the most high?
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness,” 1 John 1:9 (HCSB).
As simple and uncomplicated as acknowledging my sin. It was the night before high school graduation that I confessed my sin and asked Jesus to sit on the throne of my heart. June 13, 1973. Nearly 40 years ago. The stain and ugliness of sin was swept away by the love and sacrifice of Christ.
He replaced death with life. He took the ugliness of my sin and made me beautiful in His eyes. And he threw in joy, peace, and so much more. What an incredible trade.
So the next time you hear somebody say, “that (fill in the blank) is as ugly as sin,” remember that when it comes to ugly, sin is the gold standard!