Finding The Dirt - Week of February 22nd

By Judy Nichols

February 22, 2015

I do not like to clean my house. I can find any number of things I’d rather do than clean. As a consequence, I don’t usually clean until my house is visibly dirty – dust bunnies under the buffet, cobwebs in the corners, and dust you can draw pictures in. It’s not hard to find the dirt when I finally get around to cleaning and it’s gratifying to be able to see the difference afterward.

Doing a spring cleaning of my heart during Lent is a whole different matter. As a Christian, I try continually to not let things get dirty there. I know how I am supposed to behave and why. I do refrain from overt sin out of reverence for Christ and gratitude for all His sacrificial death has granted me. Not that I never slip up, for I do it oftener than I like. I have become more and more acquainted with repentance as the years go by.

Spring cleaning for the soul requires looking beyond the obvious. What about those sins that do not manifest themselves outwardly? How many times a day do I fall short? How many foolish or covetous thoughts do I entertain? What about my lack of self control when it comes to chocolate and facebook? How often do judgmental thoughts become judgmental words? What about the mixed motives behind my deeds? What about the doubts and fears I let grip me, even though I say nothing about them?

If we take the words of Jesus seriously, that it is the things that come out of the heart that defile us (Mark 7:23), and the words of Paul that whatever is not from faith is sin (Rom 6:23), we have to conclude that we do need cleansing, despite the fact that our outward behavior may be pretty good. What others, and sometimes even we ourselves do not see, God sees. "Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart" (1 Sam.16:7). And "You have set our iniquities before You, our secret sins in the light of your presence" (Ps. 90:8). And "all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do" (Heb. 4:13).

I take comfort from the words of Psalm 19:12. "Who can discern his errors? Acquit me of hidden faults." God knows the myriad ways we fall short. He knows all the ways and times we have offended people just by being ourselves. He knows how we have unwittingly disappointed someone (and, indeed, have disappointed Him). He knows our sins of omission as well as those of commission. But, thanks be to God, through His becoming flesh and blood in Jesus Christ, God also "knows our frame, He is mindful that we are but dust" (Psalm 103:14). And "His mercies are new every morning" (Lam. 3:22-23).

The Apostle John wrote in his first letter, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9). However good our behavior may be on any given day, we are still sinners who can never measure up to God’s standard. God knows where the dirt is, even if we don’t. Humbly acknowledging this before Him is a good start on that spring soul clean-up.

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