Since our family tribe is smaller, the number of dirty cups and plates has shrunk as well. Instead of washing a bunch of small loads, now I choose to wait until the dishwasher is full before running it. So, the new rule in the house is for each plate-user to stack his dishes in the rack and leave them until after the next meal. Ideally, it’d be best if those dishes were rinsed off under some running water before they were loaded, but in reality, that doesn’t always (or even frequently) happen. Which means that after a few hours of sitting, the leftover food particles become firmly cemented to the ceramic surfaces. Smears of pasta sauce, remnants of oatmeal or tiny bits of grain become so hardened that even the power of the dishwasher jets can’t blast them loose. What would have been removed with a gentle spray a few hours earlier, later it takes, not one, but two cycles of the dishwasher, and sometimes an extra tough, dried-on stain will require additional soaking before it will come off.
Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God. ~ 2 Corinthians 7:1
My dishes can be a little like what happens to believers when we refuse to deal with sin quickly. Instead of yielding to the Holy Spirit, our delayed response allows time for the remains of carnal thinking, or remnants of sinful behavior to stick in our lives with ferocity. Once set in place, we often have to be scraped, scrubbed and scoured to be rid of the nasty residue of disobedience.
While purification of the heart is solely the work of God through faith in Christ, Paul reminds us that we have to cooperate with the process. Paul charges us to “purify ourselves” of all that soils our actions and attitudes and “out of reverence for God,” choose actions and attitudes that result in a clean life. (vs 1) While we may not cling to what are often considered to be gross sins (adultery, murder, malice, etc), as we mature in our faith, we should seek to heighten our awareness of the filthiness of pride, anger, irreverence, envy, greed and other more ‘socially acceptable’ sins as well. (Rom 1:29-30)
The remedy for this is found by going back to my dishes. The water from the sink is always available to clean my plates, but until I actually immerse them, the grime remains. As Christ-followers, the Spirit of God has already been poured out on us and the Word of God is readily available to cleanse us, but unless we plunge ourselves in the Scriptures and allow the Spirit to rain (reign) over us, we’ll find ourselves encrusted with sin and stuck in our struggle for purity and holiness.
So if you have areas in your life that are in need of some scouring, it might be time to roll your sleeves up and get busy. Open the Word of God… Yield to the Spirit of God… invite the Lord to change your heart as you change your behavior so that you can be clean and fit to be used as a vessel ready for service.
For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. Titus 2:11-14