Shine by Scrubbing Spiritual Grime

Twice I stopped dicing onions and alerted my husband he was blocking my light. Wondering if a fluorescent bulb in the kitchen ceiling fixture had gone out, he climbed atop a chair and carefully removed the first of two lighting panels. As he lowered it to the ground, the light in the room doubled. It turned out that the aged, yellowed panel now blocked more light than it diffused.

Painting of sunrise

From “Joy Comes in the Morning” by Rae Jones

When he removed the second panel, we found two more problems: One bulb was indeed dead, and the other barely glowed from its failing electrical ballast.

In the morning as I started tidying in the increased light, I noticed the cobalt blue mixer which usually blended in to the royal blue walls now stood out. But it didn’t shine. I examined it closely and found—ugh—a thin grimy film previously invisible.

I scrubbed nearly the entire kitchen while Clay replaced light fixtures, bulbs, and lighting panels. Four pots of hot, soapy water and half a cup of bleach later, the kitchen sparkled under the new, bright lights.

The old lights had dimmed so gradually over eighteen years that I’d no idea how much light we’d lost.

Which is exactly what can happen in our spiritual lives: We can drift from God’s light so slowly that we don’t realize we no longer see clearly the spiritual grime that needs cleaning.

Spiritual Grime

Jesus said people who fear light exposing bad deeds stay out of the light, but those who live by truth come into the light (John 3:20-21). Part of walking in light and truth is admitting our sins to God and receiving his forgiveness and purification:

If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1:6-9

Though God cleanses us when we in faith turn to Jesus as Savior and Lord, as we traverse this world, our feet get dirty and need regular washing. That’s why Jesus told Peter, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean” (John 13:10).

Five Ways to Walk in Light

How do we walk in the light so we know when our feet need cleansing?

1. Examine Life under Scripture’s Light

Just as I examined my counter accoutrements under good light, so I can examine my life under Scripture’s light. When I read what pleases and displeases God, I can reflect on how well my life matches. For instance, when I read Paul’s Colossians 3:8-9 list of what to dispose of—anger, rage, malice, slander, filthy language, and lying—I can pause at each to consider if they’re MIA.

2. Bring Weaknesses to God Daily

Because stainless steel surfaces show fingerprints even in dim light, I know they need extra attention and I polish them almost daily. Likewise, in my daily prayers, I can bring before God my weaknesses that need extra attention, praying, “See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23).

3. Confess Sins Immediately

We all know it’s important to wipe up spills as soon as they happen. Similarly, we should address anything we notice wrong immediately. For example, the instant we have an envious thought, we can confess it and replace it with thanksgiving for what we have. The Apostle John said, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Confessing immediately is like wiping up a spill as soon as we see it.

4. Get Help from Experienced Mentors

Our 25-year old countertop tiles are cracked and the grout is chipped and discolored beyond bleach’s power. While we could retile ourselves, rather than continuing to battle grout, we plan to hire an experienced installer to put in a solid surface. In the same way, if we continue to battle a particular weakness, it may be time to get experienced help in the form of an accountability partner, a counselor, or an addiction recovery program.

5. Rejoice in God’s Mercy

After I finished scrubbing my kitchen under the bright new lights, I stood back and admired how the mixer and glass canisters sparkled. In the same way, when we’ve acknowledged and repented of our sins, we should recognize that God has forgiven us and washed us clean.

We should never try to punish ourselves because that shows a lack of faith that Jesus’ work on the cross was enough to cleanse us. Nor should we berate ourselves as bad, for God said, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean” (Acts 10:15). We should accept God’s forgiveness and move forward. After all, “whoever lacks” virtue, godliness, etc.,  “is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins” (2 Peter 19).

The blood of Jesus purifies us from all sin. That’s something to rejoice about!

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6 Comments

  1. I really enjoy reading your blogs they are always good reminders to stay spiritually connected even as my life gets busier.

  2. So perfectly put Jean….loved it. It’s like that song “Slow Fade” about the changes happening so slow we don’t see until it’s become dull. Thank you so much for that amazing reminder!
    Now i need to go clean my stainless steel sink!!! 🙂 Debby

  3. What a wonderful message, Jean. I love how you take every day, ordinary things, and find a spiritual connection. You are amazing and your posts bless me.

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