Summary: The sequel to my sermon called "Baggage". It's about allowing Jesus to clean your life.
Psalm 51:1-12 – Cleaning Your Closets
Last week I preached about clutter in our lives. It was delivered while we were in the throes of moving. Well, this week’s message is somewhat of a sequel to last week. Because you know, when you move, there’s a lot of cleaning that must be done.
We were moving from a house we lived in for 2 years. We had done a fair amount of cleaning in the last few months of living there: we had a yard sale, there was a mould problem that made us throw a lot of stuff out, and then there was the hot water tank rupture in June that ruined a lot of our stuff as well. But when we started moving our belongings from the closets, cupboards, and drawers, we found that we don’t like throwing things out. Not quite like that TV show “Hoarders”, about people with obsessive-compulsive behaviours to keep things. But on a smaller scale, we realized we have a lot of stuff, and it was taking up a lot of space. So we needed to clean it out, not just because we were moving and had to take everything anyway, but also because we needed to clean.
Then we moved into our current house. Though it was empty of most of its furniture, there were a few items to move around. Plus, it hadn’t been lived in for a year. We have needed to take care of more than 1 dust-bunny. So, we cleaned one house out, only to move into another to be cleaned. It seems we have spent the last month and a half packing and unpacking, cleaning and re-cleaning, moving boxes from one house to another, from one spot on the floor to another.
I can’t say that everybody hates cleaning, any more than I can say that nobody likes moving. Some people thrive on cleaning: the mops, the scrub brushes, the hot water, the cleaning agents, the anti-bacterial disinfectants, the getting-on-your-knees-and-scouring-till-you-can-see-your-face-in-the-reflection… Some people live for this. But I can say this much for the topic at hand: it’s hard work to do a good cleaning job.
Today I’d like to take you through some scripture passages about cleaning. Not about floors and walls, but about the heart. Psalm 51:1-12 are David’s words written about when he messed up with sin. Let’s read what he says… He’s praying for a clean heart. In verses 2, 7 and 10, he uses the word “clean” or “cleanse”, or both. This psalm is a painfully beautiful expression of David’s desire to be forgiven of his horrible failure with Uriah’s wife Bathsheba and the execution that followed. David so wanted to be made whole again. It’s hard work to do a good cleaning job.
Of course we know that David was not the only Biblical character who needed cleansing. Adam, Cain, Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Esau, Moses, Solomon, Elijah, Jonah, Peter, Mark, Paul… pretty much everyone. Occasionally there’s a character whose flaws are not mentioned: Joseph from the OT, Daniel, Barnabas... but mostly we see stories in the Bible of people who tried to live good lives, failed, and received forgiveness for what they did. They were made clean.
There’s something wonderful about being clean. If you go to someone else’s home, and you walk into a clean porch, immediately, you feel more welcome. A clean kitchen makes a person feel like the food is going to be safe to eat. A clean bathroom is a must if you want to feel clean when you’re done your business.
Now I’ve met some super people over my years whose houses were not spotless, and that’s OK. One family in my 1st church lived on a farm in a swamp. They wore their work boots into the kitchen and living room. Plus, it was an unfinished wood floor, so you know it didn’t clean easily. But let me tell you, those people gave us free meat and free milk. They invited me to watch wrestling with them. They’d just stop in from time to time to chat as well. They treated us well, and I will always remember them for that.
I tell this story to say that the cleanliness of a person’s home is not necessarily a reflection of a person’s heart. That’s a good thing, because I can’t say that I’m super neat or a clean freak. Another lady in that same church once said something that I’ve never forgotten, that I believe completely: “If you’re coming to see my house, give me a week. If you’re coming to see me, stop in anytime.” I only mean to say that being clean is a good thing. And if you had to choose, always choose heart cleanliness over house cleanliness.
It’s funny, though: Some people work and labour and slave away to make their houses clean, but leave their souls in a state of filth. They have immaculate homes but dirty hearts. They get up early and do their laundry and have it on the clothesline and do the bedding and the dishes and the dusting and the vacuuming, just so they can sit around and gossip all day. Or people who have well-manicured lawns with the hedges trimmed and the gardens weeded and the grass mown but they sit in judgment over their neighbours’ lives. Clean exteriors, dirty interiors. Jesus called people like that white-washed tombs. Beautiful appearances, yucky realities.