Dear Woodview friends and family,
This week I took a couple days off to work at home to clean out junk and stuff that had accumulated over 15 years. It is amazing the stuff that collects, even when you try to make sure it doesn't! Part of it was that our son has grown up, gotten married, and moved out so we had "son stuff" that he didn't want and we no longer needed. But no one needs 61 shirts, or encyclopedia sets when you can get better updated information online, or phone chargers for phones you no longer have. So we needed to get rid of the clutter and that's what we did!
Now, this isn't really an article about our house...but it's an article about my life and yours because we all need to clean out our spiritual homes. The New Testament has a number of passages that tell us to "put off" and "put on"...or we might say "clean out" and "collect." Just check out Ephesians 4:17 - 5:21; Colossians 3:1 - 4:6; or 1 Thessalonians 4:1-12. Clean out the attitudes, thoughts, and actions that are sinful and hinder our walk with Jesus; and collect and build into our lives those things that build us up in Christ.
After cleaning house this week, let me share a couple of realizations:
1. Cleaning house is painful -- as I am writing this article, I am living on ibuprofen. Why? Because cleaning house is painful! I carried out things that were heavy, I had to twist things around corners to get them out, I had to bend and move and use muscles that preachers don't often use!
But it's also painful because we got rid of some of my favorite things -- I had held onto shirts for too long because I really liked the shirt, we threw out some household decorations that had memories attached, we got rid of some things that had been expensive when we first got them.
And when we do a spiritual cleansing it can be painful too because it means getting rid of some things that we really enjoy...they're not beneficial, they're not constructive, they don't build us up in Christ; in fact, they might even be sins that have control or mastery over us -- but we enjoy them! Cleaning house spiritually means we have to get rid of things that are cluttering up our lives and hearts preventing us from being focused on Christ and pursuing Christ.
2. Cleaning house is necessary -- now, we're not hoarders (my wife would hate for you to get the wrong impression from what I"m about to say), but cleaning house is necessary because there is limited space and you have to get rid of the old in order to replace it with new. This is just a fact -- we only have so much time in a day so if you fill your day wasting time, you won't have the time you need for the good, constructive stuff; we only have so much room in our homes so if it is filled with unwanted items, you don't have space for things you need.
The same thing is true for us spiritually -- we only have so much time, energy, focus, priority. That's why Jesus said, "You can only have one master" (Matthew 6:24). If we want to build into our lives the disciplines that will help us grow in Christ, if we want to build into our lives the relationships that will help us be faithful to Christ, if we want to build into our lives the patterns that will help us bring glory to Christ -- then we will have to clean our spiritual house to make room.
3. Cleaning house is surprising -- when my wife and I first started talking about going through our home and trying to get rid of stuff, we didn't think there was really that much. But then we started opening drawers, and looking in closets, and asking hard questions and we were surprised how much stuff there was to be gotten rid of.
The same thing is true spiritually! If we're serious about pleasing the Lord, we all have stuff that we need to clean out. And when you start with a commitment to get rid of the clutter, you'll be surprised just how much clutter you have allowed to accumulate in your life.
4. Do it every day -- I don't know that we will actually follow through on this commitment, but after this past week we have determined that we will not hold onto things that we don't need, want, or use. We will "clean house" every day...or at least every week.
And that is good advice for us spiritually, too. Don't wait until a crisis to clean house, don't wait for a spiritual catastrophe to realize you've got a lot of junk cluttering up your heart. Instead, clean out your spiritual house every day.
Well, it's time for me to take more ibuprofen. I look forward to seeing you Sunday and, by the way, I just might be wearing a new shirt!
Jon B. Stradtner