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Filthy Rags

by Mark Spencer © 2002

Would you like to know the answer,
The key to heaven's gate?
Have you the courage to accept
What will decide your fate?

You're quick to list your noble deeds,
Fly your virtues like flags.
While all of your most righteous acts,
Are naught but filthy rags.

For all you do in our Lord's name,
That rag remains unclean.
The purest place within our hearts
Are utterly obscene.

We like to think that we stand out,
Above the sinful throng,
But if that is what you believe,
Then your belief is wrong.

For once a soul gives in to sin,
No difference remains.
No righteous act can wash away,
Or clean your fetid stains.

The Pharisee who prayed to God,
As any proud man would,
Thought he was not like other men,
Believing he was good.

The tax collector next to him,
Was not blind, or naïve.
He knew the filth that stained his rag,
And that truth made him grieve.

For his penitent surrender,
His spirit was redeemed.
But not so of the Pharisee,
Whose ways were so esteemed.

So which do you think best describes
The life you think you lead?
Are you the garden's favored crop,
Or are you just a weed?

The truth is, we are all the same,
I am, and so are you,
We're filthier than substances
One scrapes off of their shoe.

Once soaked in filth a rag can't be
Distinguished from the next,
Yet some believe their rag is clean,
And that has me perplexed.

For while a soul remains on earth,
It will be soaked in sin.
One cannot make their spirit clean,
While in the world of men.

The cleaning comes when we depart,
And leave this mortal coil.
Until that day, both weed and crop,
Soak up this filthy soil.

And that's the key to heaven's gate,
To recognize your place.
That no man stands above the next,
When brought before God's grace.

The Pharisee dared praise himself,
To this day he still brags,
He's part of every boastful soul,
Awash in filthy rags.

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Click Here to contact Mark Spencer to request permission to use this poem.