My family is in the middle of a comprehensive basement cleaning project that has now stretched into its second month. When we built our house, I insisted on a ranch lay-out so that I could avoid endless days of climbing stairs. Clif agreed so long as we had a full basement shop area under the living space. Sounded like a great idea, and it would be if it were neat and organized. But before this project commenced, our basement was a total mess, euphemistically and only slightly hyperbolically, referred to our ‘unlicensed landfill.’ It was (and still is) filled with all kinds of stuff of varying degrees of usefulness.
Our cleaning project has uncovered outgrown toys, set pieces for long-closed high school theatrical productions, boxes of keepsakes, homeschooling curriculum, stored furniture, all kinds of tools and hardware (I’m convinced we have at least one of every kind of fastener ever made), art supplies, kitchen cast-offs, plus building supplies including, paints, stains, air ducts, ventilation fans, sheet rock, plywood, 2x4s, and various trash-diving finds. I mean, we even have an elevator door down there. It’s crazy! I’m not kidding when I say that you barely even walk down there, much less find anything.
But now, thanks to my oldest daughter who’s spearheading the massive project, it’s a lot better. We’ve given away, stored away, and thrown away so much stuff! In fact, the last trip to the dump helped us shed 1860 pounds of useless garbage. Now, I’m thrilled to say we can even see most of floor!
But as we crawl along with this project, digging our way out from under this massive heap of junk, a thought came to me…
Our basement is kind of like a Christian’s soul.
Your spirit is designed to be the storage place of immense spiritual treasure … the knowledge of God Himself. And through faith in the sacrifice of Jesus, you’ve been invited to know the Holy One personally! Through the Scriptures, can cherish in your mind and heart the very words of the Creator.
If you’re not diligent and careful to guard this sacred space, then your soul easily becomes a dumping ground for heaping up piles of worldly junk.
John warns in his first epistle… “Do not love the world nor the things in the world If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.” (1 John 2:15-16)
Most of us wouldn’t admit readily to being in love with the world, but our actions might say differently. The things we hang on to, and actively protect on the shelves of our hearts are not without consequence. Over time they occupy space intended for God, smother practical application of truth, and impede the movement of the Spirit.
Could it be that a simple survey of your life reveals that it’s time for a radical inventory? Could you benefit from a renewed commitment to “purify (yourself) from everything that contaminates the body and spirit.” (2 Cor. 7:1) so that you can present to Him your body as “a living sacrifice, holy, and acceptable to God?” (Romans 12:1)
If so, maybe these 3 tips gathered from our basement reclamation project might help you begin the process of removing clutter from your soul.
A lot of our time in the basement has been spent identifying items then asking a singular question:
“Should we keep it?”
When you are evaluating emotional fragments that are piled up inside your heart, ask yourself the same thing. If you are harboring bitterness, anger, or malice toward anyone for anything (regardless of the circumstance), the answer to ‘should you keep it’ is always ‘no.” The quicker you toss these powerful soul clogging attitudes through the door of forgiveness, the freer you will become. ~~
Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (Ephesians 4:31-32)
Everyone in the family knew that our basement needed to be cleaned. We’ve even had many discussions about the importance of this task over the years. But knowing that it needed to be done and even talking about it did nothing to effect change. It’s only when we actually put on our gloves, grabbed some trash bags and started going through the junk a piece at a time that we started to see real improvement. The same is true for a soul purge. You can know things need to be altered and even agree that change is necessary, but until you decide to act, the spirit-clogging disorder will remain. ~~
Make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Pet 1:5-8
Often the biggest objection to cleaning out a cluttered space is that it’s just easier to ignore the unruly areas and leave things as they are. The same objections can be true of keeping your spiritual house in order. It is easier to turn a blind eye to problems, but deterioration is a slow and progressive process. That’s why you need to take regular and honest inventory of your life. Be alert and inspect diligently to reveal areas that were once clean and tidy, but may now need maintenance. Open yourself up to God and ask him to show you areas of disorder and danger. ~~
So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall – 1 Corinthians 10:12
The bottom line is that just like any clean-up project, spiritual orderliness takes discipline, focus, and a lot of plain old hard work – but ultimately, it means developing the virtue of self-control which can only be accomplished by submission of our lives to Jesus Christ and willingness to allow the Holy Spirit to do His transforming work.