Cleanliness = Godliness.Posted: September 17, 2012
Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature… Colossians 3:5a
I don’t really like the idea of cleaning.
While I’m at home or at work, (ok, let’s be honest, pretty much anywhere) and I think about scrubbing the bathtub, or doing the dishes, or vacuuming the stairs, I kind of switch over to more pressing matters, like checking facebook.
Because cleaning means work, effort, possibly exhaustion, aching limbs/back, etc. And instead of that, I would rather watch TV.
Another reason I’d rather not clean is that it doesn’t last forever. Inevitably, I have to walk across the clean carpet, I have to use a dish to eat off of… heck, even if I don’t do anything, my skin’s going to flake off and create dust, right? Inevitably, my clean house will get dirty again.
So it would seem, sometimes, the entire process is an exercise in futility.
However, while I don’t like the idea of cleaning, and even though it means work rather than TV, while I’m cleaning I’m actually pretty happy and content (listening to an iPod while I work helps, too). There’s something satisfying about that kind of work: I’m cleaning, I’m seeing results, and I can enjoy having a clean house, even if it is only for a limited amount of time.
And if I’m being really dilligent, I’ll keep up with things as I go: instead of letting stuff pile up and get out of hand, I clean periodically, a little bit at a time, and I don’t have to do the long, painful task of cleaning for an entire morning/early afternoon.
When I think about it, that’s how it is in my spiritual house cleaning as well: I don’t relish it. I don’t like to think about the messy, disheveled state of my soul very much. I’d rather be checking facebook and pretending things around me are not getting messier and messier.
For me, it comes down to that sense of fultility: No matter how much I clean, my soul’s going to fall back into a disasater zone again. Hopefully not the *same* disaster zone; hopefully I’ll take out the garbage and it won’t grow legs and come crawling back to my front door. But there will be new garbage to take out. There will be new dirty footprints going through my “house” that will need to get cleaned up.
So I clean house and stop saying bad things about other people; then I start getting impatient instead.
So I clean house and stop criticizing and tearing other people down; then I start being slothful and self-centered.
So I clean house and forgive Mr. So-and-so; then Mrs. So-and-so does something that makes me want to not forgive.
It’s easy to want to throw in the towel (yeah, pun intended) and just give up.
But that is not an option, either. We’re not meant to live in spiritual squalor. Spiritual squalor is worse than aches, it’s worse than exhaustion, it’s worse than up-keep. To paraphrase Jesus, better to enter the Kingdom of Heaven with an aching back and smelling of Lysol than to go to hell to check facebook.
The housecleaning process itself may be painful. Recently, I was confronted with an area of my life that needs some cleaning, and it hurt. It did not feel good at all, to put it mildly. But now, after thought and prayer and time, rather than feeling much pain about it, I can do something about it. I can clean house. And that actually feels pretty good. I start to see results, and I see an end goal.
And perhaps the most important aspect of having a clean house is that it makes your space something desireable, something that other people will appreciate and enjoy. We want guests to like our houses, to see our houses as something they would actually want.
We were created to reflect Christ, and our spirits should be something others will see and thereby see God. Our “clean houses” should be attractive to others who are still in “dirty houses.” Our clean houses need to be continually cleaned because we were saved from squalor.