I come from a long line of cleaners. My grandma, in her eighties, enjoys the California family visiting her in Texas. One night when the crew arrived, Grandma needed just a few more minutes before she gave hugs and said hello…to finish vacuuming.
One time when I was young, there was a storm that knocked out the electricity. So what did my mom do? She lit a candle and started mopping.
I can remember dusting the shutters as a child. My mom has a picture of me cleaning out the refrigerator. I was three. So when I say cleaning is in my genes, I come by it honestly. While keeping our house clean is a daily task, this is not something I thrive on. Cleaning is just a means to an end I love and that is a clean home.
All this to say that I was reminded of a lesson while dusting yesterday. It is easy to make a quick pass over the obvious and visible places. It’s a whole ‘nother level of cleaning when you move the books to get in the corners of the shelves or drag over a chair to reach the high places-the places that no one will see.
I was reminded that keeping a pure life is a lot like cleaning. It’s easy to work on the parts that everyone sees, especially the parts that are visible on Sunday morning. But it’s a whole ‘nother level to dig in and move stuff around and clean the parts that only you see, the parts of our lives that no one knows about. I guess the word for this is integrity. Who am I when no one else is watching? Who are you? Who are we in our thoughts and in our words when no one else is around? How clean are we in the dark, on the inside?
This reminds me of Jesus’ rebuke of the Pharisees in Matthew 23, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside will also be clean.” (Verses 25-26)
As with most of Jesus’ teachings, this is not complicated but is difficult to implement. Cleaning the areas that no one else sees is counterintuitive. But clearly stated here, if we clean the inside, the parts that no one sees, the outside, the parts on display, will be clean as well.
I wish cleaning my house worked like this.
Let’s take Jesus at his word. Just try it. Just try cleaning up the unseen and watch a transformation of the seen. The outside of the cup may be pretty white but who wants to drink from a cup that is dirty on the inside?
It’s time to clean house, starting with the inside, starting with the places in the dark.