After Kassy and I moved into our home over a month ago, we couldn’t be more happy with it. We loved the space and loved the opportunity to host people in our home.
While I was having lunch with a friend a week or two ago, we got onto the topic of homes and constant maintenance that they require. He, a seasoned home owner, told me, “every home has its hidden issues that aren’t revealed until you’ve gotten to know it better.”
Certainly this has been the case with our home. Most recently, the part of our home that requires immediate tending to was our master bathroom sink. It was slow to drain already but just the other night after getting back from our kid’s mom instructor summer camp, the sink was fully clogged.
Try as I might, the threads of the corroded PVC pipes wouldn’t budge. I needed some help.
I don’t know about you, but one of the realities of my own soul is that if left unattended, often ended up breading death. On the outside I’m a loving husband, a pastor, a student of the Bible, an apprentice of Jesus. But inwardly I can find myself empty.
Jesus once had an encounter with the religious sticklers of his time. In Luke 11:37-44 Jesus was invited by a Pharisee to eat with him. Jesus consented and went. But the Pharisee was astonished to find that Jesus had not followed the Pharisee instituted law that one must wash before eating.
Naturally, Jesus responds with, “Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness.”
Jesus called out the real truth behind the heart of the Pharisee’s law. While the outside of that person might seem clean just like a cup with the exterior cleaned, the inside was full of death because it was left unattended and not cleaned.
This is a lot like my sink. Before the bowl was clean and I didn’t know there was an issue until it clogged and bubbles up all the grime that was hidden within. Often our own hearts are like this. As Christians we go about and do good works. We serve those in need, we give our money to those who are in need, we take care of each other, etc. But often too, the wickedness in our hearts bubble up and over into those actions. We desperately need to clean the inside of our hearts and not just focus on how we look on the outside.
But also like my plumbing situation, I couldn’t do it just by myself. I needed something to grip the pipes that would actively enable me to clean out the pipes and replace them.
We, without Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit, are completely spiritually incapable of cleaning our hearts. The corrosion and build up of evil in us are too great for us to fix. We need Jesus to cleanse our hearts first and then live by the power of the Spirit in order to continuously clean out the junk that sits in our souls and festers unless taken care of.
But how on earth do we do that day by day?
The first thing I would recommend is an ancient Christian practice called Lectio Divina (Latin for “divine reading”). First read through the passage for content and information. Know what it is the text is saying to the original hearers. Second, reread the passage and look for the big idea that can be drawn over into our context. The NIV Application Commentary series is great at this. Thirdly, reread the text and specifically ask the Lord to speak to you through the text. Concentrate on words or phrases that stick out. Ask the Spirit to guide you and speak to you as you intentionally evaluate your own condition and life in the mirror of scripture. This can be done by placing yourself into one of Jesus’ parables or placing yourself into the Roman house church that Paul was writing to or by imagining yourself as an Israelite receiving the Law for the first time.
The second thing I would recommend is to find a friend. What I mean is to find a friend you trust and you feel the freedom to spill your guts to. My friend lives in Arkansas while I live in Texas but we talk and I tell him my junk because I need a safe sounding board who will call me out when I need to be called out or comfort me when I’m taking something too personal that was unfair. Whatever it is, I know that I need someone else to enter into my junk with me because I can’t parse out all of my own motivations. Find a friend. Hey, even going kindergartner style and just asking someone you respect from afar could help (just don’t expect the same in return).
That all being said, my sisters and brothers in the Lord, don’t let your heart become like my bathroom sink. Regularly go to the Lord in prayer and face the mirror of scripture with courage and confidence knowing that for those in Christ there is no longer condemnation. Seek his forgiveness and find someone you trust who can help keep you on track. It is the Spirit if God, who rose Jesus from the dead and empowered all of his ministry, that lives in you and works through you. Therefore live by the Spirit moment by moment and day by day.