I have a secret…I’m a little bit of a clean freak. I love everything being clean. I also love everything being organized, spacious, and simplified. I love the idea of voluntary simplicity and living with less. To me, simplifying my life as much as I can is liberating and a fun challenge. It’s like a weight is lifted when I sort and clear out everything that’s unnecessary in my life. Yet, no matter how much I clean and clear, I‘ve noticed things continue to get dirty and stuff still comes in, and the endless cycle continues.
This continual cycle reminds me of our struggles in this imperfect life. As Christians, we struggle with our own inward and outward clutter. We have a tendency to complicate our own lives.
Perhaps we take on too much. Maybe we simply can’t bring ourselves to politely say “no” when we know we’re overbooked and overstressed. We may fall into the trap of allowing our focus and attention to be on things that don’t really matter… things that keep us busy, yet don’t make a dent or move us forward. We can quickly dirty and complicate our lives. We can make things very messy very fast.
Cluttering our lives with obligations and stuffing every corner with endless things should give us pause to say, “Is this beneficial…is this meaningful…does it matter?”
Although we can clutter with things and obligations, we can also clutter and make messy our lives because of what’s on the inside…what we’ve allowed into our hearts. Luke 6:45 reminds us of this truth:
“A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”
For example, we may not always discipline ourselves to keep a tight rein on our tongues Maybe we’re prone to lash out or to speak without thinking first. Or, maybe we’re prone to gossip or to be just a very good “listener” of gossip.
We may let our minds wander and not take captive negative thoughts as the Bible teaches. Perhaps our motives for doing things are not exactly pure, but selfish. Maybe we struggle with letting insignificant things fill the space in our hearts, crowding out what truly matters most. We may allow ourselves to worry, when God calls us to give our concerns and cares to Him so we can have peace and rest.
We may secretly have our own “idols” or addictions we cling to instead of clinging to God alone. We may let things reach our hearts and vie for our attention and affection that have no place for attachment. We may open our eyes and minds to things we know we’re to turn from or gradually find ourselves becoming more desensitized by the world around us, making a once bright light go dim.
Our insides can get messy if we’re not on guard and daily keeping Christ as the primary focus of our attention. No matter what is cluttering our lives, we must continually take inventory and keep working to improve, change, and clean up the mess.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my own tangled-up messes, is the very real lesson that true and lasting change can’t come without God’s intervention. We try to change ourselves, yet forget that we can’t successfully make changes that last without the One who created us. All of us have to call on God for help…always, and in all things.
In John 15:5 Jesus himself stated, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
There are certain things you and I simply can’t do by ourselves or in our own strength.
Only God can truly clean a heart, change a life, and get each of us on the right course. Only God can miraculously transform us and clean us from the inside out. Only He can give us the strength to change, to break bad habits, and to start anew. We must be willing to cling to Him, place Him in the driver’s seat, die to self daily, and be participants in the cleaning-up process.
Thankfully, God doesn’t leave us helpless or hopeless. He’s our helper and source of strength. He’s our compass and our guide. He promises to refine us, mold us, and give us another chance to get things right…another chance to clean up and start fresh.
As you step into a new year, thank God for the opportunity to start fresh. Thank Him for a new day…another chance. Ask Him to open your eyes to see what needs to be refined and what needs to be removed in your life. And as you venture through your own process of coming clean, let these verses encourage you along the way.
Psalm 51:10 “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”
Hebrews 10:22 “Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.”
John 8:36 “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”
Psalm 51:7 “Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.”
2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”
Lamentations 3:22-23 “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”
Colossians 1:21-23 “Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation — if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.”
Psalm 59:16 “But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble.”
Luke 9:23 “Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”
Psalm 51:1-2 “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according
to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.”