A few times a week I have Cadi help me clean up the dog toys. The other day she had the great idea to stick Lacee in the basket with the toys! Now that is REALLY cleaning up! Yes, I do have a “toy box” for the dogs. What does that say about me???
Isn’t there something beautiful about a house that is clean? Or, if you’re like me, even having one clean spot to rest my eyes on is like a breeze to my spirit. Since we’ve been living in Texas we have been so blessed to have a homeschool family come over and help us out with the cleaning every other week. The whole atmosphere of the house changes when order reigns over chaos. I feel better. Cadi studies better without so many distractions. Even Jon notices and appreciates a clean slate.
Don’t we all? Jesus spoke of cleanliness several times in his ministry. I am such a stickler about germs and keeping my kitchen counters and dishes clean that I cringe and identify myself with the Pharisees in this encounter in Luke 11 —
As Jesus was speaking, one of the Pharisees invited him home for a meal. So he went in and took his place at the table. His host was amazed to see that he sat down to eat without first performing the hand-washing ceremony required by Jewish custom.
I wonder…was he starving and just HAD to eat? Or was he proving a point?
Then the Lord said to him, ‘You Pharisees are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy — full of greed and wickedness! Fools! Didn’t God make the inside as well as the outside? So clean the inside by giving gifts to the poor, and you will be clean all over.’
Now, I am not Jewish, and I do not have a ceremony per se, but in our house we WASH our hands before we eat! Cadi has known since she was a toddler that before we eat, our hands get clean. It’s a common-sense thing. It’s something doctors and scientists tell us to do to prevent the spread of diseases and germs.
But Jesus wasn’t speaking about the diseases that can be spread from person to person. He used this opportunity to speak to the diseases within our characters. He was talking about talking the talk but not walking the walk. Can you imagine sitting down to dinner with the Lord Jesus and having him tell you that you are filthy — filled with greed and wickedness? But I love my Jesus — he always gives constructive criticism. He followed up by telling them how they could get clean, on the inside of their hearts, not just on the surface of their hands: by giving to the poor.
Because I am a Christ-follower, I have been washed clean by his blood, Praise God! But I still have to deal daily with the fleshly fears, concerns, and habits that are entrenched in my sinful nature. (Speaking of clean, do you typically think of blood as being clean? If I cut myself shaving and get blood on my white pants, I quickly grab the Clorox bleach pen! But God required blood sacrifice as atonement for the sins of the people…someone had to die. Wow – I get choked up whenever I think about the One he sent to die for my filthiness, for my greed, for my wickedness. His ONLY son. I have an ONLY, too. I cannot fathom the vastness of his love for us. If you’ve seen the movie The Passion and read the accounts of Jesus’ last hours on earth, you know his death was bloody. No amount of Clorox could wipe away the stain, the grief, the pain that he took on his own body.)
Sometimes I have to remind myself that I have been cleaned. I get down on myself, I berate myself; I am great at put-downs when they concern me and my many failures. I cry out CLEAN ME, Lord! And I’m in good company. Here’s what this hero of the faith, David, wrote:
“Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Oh, give me back my joy again; you have broken me — now let me rejoice. Don’t keep looking at my sins. Remove the stain of my guilt. Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me. Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you.” Psalm 51:7-12
I guess I could say — Keep On Cleaning Me, Lord! It’s wise to take stock of our own vessels and see what’s on the inside, with help from the Holy Spirit. I leave you with this morsel from Jeremiah:
“But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit. The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? But I, the Lord, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve.”
How can I keep on being clean? Trust in the Lord, and make him my hope and my confidence. This is not to say that in the Lord’s eyes I am ever unclean — I am sealed, I am His. But when I get in the driver’s seat instead of letting go and trusting God to do the driving for me, I sometimes run into a ditch. It gets pretty muddy down there. I praise Him that He reaches down, picks me back up, WASHES MY FEET, and gets me started down the road again.
I’ll chew on that the next time Shiner tracks in muddy pawprints all over the carpet. After the huge sacrifice Christ made for me, cleaning my house, my sinks, my toilets — and my dog toys — are all opportunities to reflect on and praise his love, his mercy, and his glory.