It's a dirty world we live in. Literally, of course, our planet is made of dirt, dust, mud, and dirty rocks. Spend any time on it, and you're going to get dirty. Sometimes it’s obvious, like when you’re planting peas—-lots of dirt. Sometimes it’s more subtle. In various volunteer pursuits over the years, I have sorted used clothing, books, videos, and other donated stuff. Even a short time handling these items left my hands coated with a thin, almost invisible layer of grime that was only fully revealed as it came off in a dramatic dark gray swirl in the sink at the end of the work day.
One thing I love about the analogies used in the Bible is that they don’t break down. When Jesus says sin makes us dirty, it’s true through and through. When Jesus washed the dirt off His disciples’ feet at the last supper (see John 13), He used the event to teach His disciples several things. Follow My example. Be servants to one another. Be humble. But about the dirt: this passage also points up the necessity of daily confession of sin. If you recall, Peter, bless him, protested. “You shall never wash my feet!” Jesus answered him, “If I don’t wash you, you have no part with Me.” Peter, ever the drama king, said “Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!” Jesus then tells him that since he has bathed, he only needs to wash the road dirt off his feet to be clean. (They would have washed their hands before the meal.)
Jesus' reply helps me in my spiritual walk every day. I have bathed. My sins have been washed away by the blood of Jesus and I am clean in God's sight. But I still walk this dirty planet, and handle the things of this world. My hands and my heart get coated with grime. Every day, at least, I need to confess my sins, letting Jesus wash the road dirt off me.
Now I work at home, and you might think I couldn't get too dirty in my own house. Well, no, I guess you wouldn't think that. What with cooking, dusting (theoretically), sweeping, cleaning toilets, keeping chickens and growing a garden, I’ve plenty of opportunity to get dirty. Likewise, the simplest, quietest day provides plenty of opportunity to acquire a layer of grime on my heart. A moment's reflection during the day may disclose a greasy smear of pride, a gritty smudge of bitterness, a dusting of laziness over how I've used my time. If I'm brave and yielded, and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal any wicked way in me, I may be shown even more dirt to confess and have Jesus wash away.
It's vital to wash in this manner frequently. Unconfessed sin quickly becomes unrecognized sin. I can get used to that thin layer of grime. It's a little uncomfortable but I don’t notice it so much after a while. Unrecognized sin I don’t fight against…and it gets ground in and makes a stain. If I don't confess the bitterness I feel about an unkind remark made by a friend, I'll rehearse it over and over in my head, and think some unkind things, and eventually blurt out an unkind remark of my own, gossip about her, ruin my testimony and possibly destroy a friendship. At some point in this icky process, the filth becomes obvious to all observers, and the washing clean becomes quite difficult, involving confession not only to Jesus, but to others I have harmed. Even then, the damage done may leave a permanent stain. Far better to wash away the grime when the first smudge of bitterness soils my heart, and check for dirt often.
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
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