I said to my family, one morning, a few weeks before the Chicago fire, "I am coming home this afternoon to give you a ride."
My little boy clapped his hands. "Oh, papa, will you take me to see the bears in Lincoln Park?"
I had not been gone long when my little boy said, "Mamma, I wish you would get me ready." At last he was ready to have the ride, face washed, and clothes all nice and clean.
"Now, you must take good care and not get yourself dirty again," said mamma.
It was a long time yet until the afternoon, and after a little he began to play. When I got home, I found him outside, with his face all covered with dirt.
"I can't take you to the Park that way, Willie."
"Why, papa? you said you would take me."
"Ah, but I can't; you're all over mud. I couldn't be seen with such a dirty little boy."
"Why, I'se clean, papa; mamma washed me."
"Well, you've got dirty since."
But he began to cry, and I could not convince him that he was dirty.
"I'se clean; mamma washed me!" he cried.
Do you think I argued with him? No. I just took him up in my arms, and carried him into the house, and showed him his face in the looking-glass. He could not take my word for it; but one look at the glass was enough. He didn't say he wasn't dirty after that! The looking-glass showed him that his face was dirty—but I did not take the looking-glass to wash it; of course not.
Yet that is just what thousands of people do. The law is the looking-glass to see ourselves in, to show us how vile and worthless we are in the sight of God; but they take the law, and try to wash themselves with it! Man has been trying that for six thousand years, and has miserably failed. "By the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight." Only one Man ever lived on the earth who could say He had kept the law, and that was the Lord Jesus Christ. But men have tried to do what He did, and have failed. Instead of sheltering under his righteousness, they have offered God their own.
D. L. Moody