November 30, 2021

My Rags For His Righteousness


I correct and discipline everyone I love.  So be diligent and turn from your indifference.  Revelation 3:19

I was preparing to go a mission trip in a developing country.  The trip was going to involve a lot of outdoor work, so I was careful to select clothing that wasn’t the “best” of my wardrobe.  In fact, let me be honest:  I packed my old clothes.  As the trip concluded, I washed the clothes as best I could and left them in my hotel room for the woman who would clean after I checked out.  I felt self-righteously generous as I toted my nearly empty suitcase home.

But then I read about Esther Chang. Now Esther isn’t her real name because she’s a wanted woman in North Korea and China.  Esther is a follower of Jesus that, for years, traveled from China into North Korea to evangelize and help the tiny underground church, often keeping them from starving.  Going into North Korea, Esther would wear as many new clothes as she could and exchange them with needy Christians for their old, faded, thin clothing.  Esther returned home, more than once after torture or imprisonment, in nothing more than others’ rags.[1]

What a beautiful picture of what Jesus does for me.  My self-righteousness, cost-nothing generosity was, as the Bible puts it, nothing more than “filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6). In a great exchange, my sins are laid on Jesus and His righteousness clothes me. Jesus invites me to keep exchanging my filthy rags– my pride, my false generosity, with His righteousness.  Thank you, Esther Chang, for so beautifully demonstrating His great exchange.


Resource reading:  Revelation 3:17-19

[1] Chang, Esther, and Eugene Bach. “A Blessing in Disguise.” Smuggling Light, Whitaker House, New Kensington, PA, 2016, pp. 135–135.