July 7, 2010
Living among the Boxes
by Katherine Britton, Crosswalk.com News & Culture Editor
"We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure. We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised."
Mary Poppins' whistling trick didn't magically influence the mounds of boxes and their content to fly just where they belonged. No, three weeks after moving into our new house, the boxes are still staring at me defiantly. In my head, I know that we've made progress; looking around, however, the mess seems to have multiplied.
Here's what I mean. Saturday, I worked hard to get a handle on the house. I actually made some visible progress. That progress convinced me that I deserved a complete break on Sunday, and I took one knowing that I had paid my dues. On Monday morning, however, I woke up to a terrible sight - all those unpacked items, so carefully put in temporary spots on Saturday, were now strewn across the house. Yes, entropy had commenced in a 24-hour period. My unpacking progress undone, I sat down after work and tried to figure why I had to take two steps back before continuing.
Essentially, living in the clutter had encouraged me to set down items wherever I pleased on Sunday. I had convinced myself one more item out of place wouldn't matter. Besides that, I had decided that all those pesky chores, like washing the dishes, could wait until after the big ones were finished. I got lazy after one day of work.
My situation only brings out what's already in my nature. My hands - and my heart - lack the diligence to make real progress. I like to make about one valiant effort a week at cleaning up, when I can't stand the mess any longer. Then I tolerate it while it grows again. Sounds familiar?
My heart requires the same kind of attention as my poor house. I must admit that I often walk away from a sermon determined to get rid of sin, and I furiously root through my attitudes and actions for a day or two. I make some progress. Then I get tired of digging and reorganizing my priorities. I default back to my old nature, thinking I can pick up the fight again when I'm well-rested.
You know what happens after that. After I quit actively guarding against sin, it creeps back in and spreads its mess all over again. Progress isn't just stopped; it's undone. Scripture's promises are for those who do not "become weary in doing good," (Galatians 6:9) not for those who take a break from pursuing a clean heart and God's righteousness. If I truly believe that my heart is Christ's home, I want to diligently prepare it so He is always welcomed.
Intersecting Faith & Life: Diligence outstrips the mightiest of clean sweeps. Commit to "doing good" and fighting sin daily, not just when you can't stand the visible mess any longer. We have to know what God's standards of cleanliness are before we can follow them, so take time to preach the Gospel to yourself every day.