Shined Shoes

Several years ago (three, to be exact) a reader named Anne gave me a suggestion that got me to thinking. She said,

“More writing having to do with legalism, and the recovery process would be greatly appreciated!”

Then, I wrote the following post and saved it as a “draft.” I don’t know why I never published it, but I’m going to do so right now – 3 years late.


Thank you, Anne, for the call to refocus.

So, in an effort to encourage more debate on legalism, I am going to share a story with you. It is a story I heard from a really neat guy I met yesterday. His name – Dr. Shine.

Dr. Shine

Yesterday, I went on a service call in downtown Chattanooga (a client had questions regarding his credit card service). While waiting for the business owner to show up, I stood outside on the sidewalk under a shade tree, right next door to a shoe repair shop.

Dr. Shine (I don’t know his real name), who was also standing outside, was greeting people as they walked by. It didn’t take long for me to strike up a conversation, and before long I was invited into his shop to have my shoes shined. “C’mon in,” he said, as he led me to his specially built chair. “Jus step on up dare, and I’ll fix you right up.”

The great doctor did a great job shining my shoes, even though they hadn’t been polished much since I bought them. As he was buffing away I looked down and said, “Good-looking shoes make a difference, don’t they?”

That’s when he told me about a lawyer.

The Story

Dr. Shine told me that twice a week an attorney comes into his shop, climbs up into his chair, and pays to have his shoes shined. “Five hundred dollar suites don’t mean nothin’ if your shoes look bad,” the doctor said. “People notice.”

Evidently what happened is this lawyer had dared go to court all dressed up, but his shoes must have looked bad. According to Dr. Shine, the judge in the courtroom said, “The next time you want to bring your a** in my courtroom, you’d better shine your shoes!”

The lawyer has had polished shoes ever since.

What about Church?

Why is it that people will show the utmost respect for a judge in an earthly court, but so little for the holiness of God?

After talking with Dr. Shine, the shoeshine man, I thought about how many times I’ve seen people dress up for a court appearance, but dress down for church.

We talk “grace” and all, but what about respect? We talk about “entering into His presence,” but do we really mean it?

Clothing has nothing to do with one’s spirituality, so don’t misunderstand me. However, here’s something to think about: How would your shoes look if you were literally about to enter into the Courtroom of the Judge of all the Universe?

I’d shine my shoes.

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3 Comments

Filed under legalism, Life Lessons

3 responses to “Shined Shoes

  1. There are a couple of issues here: first, when we enter a church building, are we entering the ‘Courtroom of the Judge of all the Universe’? Second, does God apply the same standard that a human judge to our outward appearance?

    I would answer ‘no’ to both questions. Our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit, and when we approach God we come to Him as His children by the redeeming blood of Christ. We’re not entering a courtroom when we come to church (I certainly hope not, anyway). We are coming to meet with our Father and our brothers and sisters. That changes a lot about how we look at people’s clothes.

    The second question can be answered by this psalm: “Who may ascend the hill of the LORD? He who has clean hands and a pure heart.” No mention of dressing in your best clothes and shining your shoes. Hmmm.

    • First … all preachers should have the habit of numbering their points, right? … You have no idea how much it thrills me to have fellow believer actually take the time to leave a comment, but especially a thoughtful disagreement! A) You read my post. B) You actually thought about it!

      I’m going to be a great professor 😉

      Second, all that you said in your comment was correct…in its proper context. My post was written with the context of “godly fear” in mind. That context is biblical, even when the parental/familial dynamic is inserted. I would submit Exodus 20:12; Lev. 19:3; and Eph. 6:1-3 for consideration.

      Yes, we are to approach the throne of grace with boldness. We are the children of God whom He suffers to come unto Him. Yet, He is still God, and He is holy.

      My contention is that there should be no set standard of dress, but one’s deliberate outward appearance, depending on the context, can be a reflection of one’s flippancy with which they enter into public, corporate worship.

      Look at it this way. Wouldn’t you at least put on clean clothes and brush your hair before visiting your parents for dinner? Or, would you care nothing of your appearance, even after all those years of your mom washing your clothes, ironing your shirts, fussing over your hair, etc.? I guess it would depend on the family, but I respect my mother enough to not stink when I visit. She even likes it when I dress up (I’m still her little boy, you know).

      But hey, you do what you want! As for me, if my shoes aren’t shined, at least my tennis shoes won’t smell 😉

      • Maybe it’s part of being a Kiwi – we’re pretty relaxed about dress and I have seen preachers wear shorts in church. My husband wears a tie about once a year or even less. The town where I live is well known for people wearing their pajamas and slippers to the supermarket (I have never done that myself!) Yes, it’s good to show respect, as long as we don’t judge others who have a different way of dressing. We don’t really know what their life is like or their heart. Thanks for your gracious response. 🙂

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