We were in the middle of a discussion and I needed backup for some point I was trying to make. I looked directly at my best friend and said, “I mean, I’m a pretty clean person in general, right?”
She hesitated for a moment and then my BEST friend (who usually isn’t this honestly blunt) calmly said, “Well, I don’t know if I would call you CLEAN. I would say you are incredibly tidy, but I don’t think that’s the same thing as clean.”
And in one moment, my whole image of myself fell.
What??! What do you mean I’m not clean?? Every single person I know (except her, apparently) thinks my apartment is always clean! Nobody has EVER, in my entire life, called me a messy person!
But it only took me a minute to realize the truth of her words. My apartment is VERY tidy. There is rarely stuff just hanging around, waiting to be put away. Dishes get done immediately, coats are hung up, bed is made every day- it’s tidy because I like it that way. But with a small amount of guilt I started to think about how often I actually CLEAN. I realized I hate cleaning. Looooooove to organize, hate to clean. I despise cleaning the shower so it doesn’t get done until it’s desperate. Dusting gets done when I can see a layer. Mopping is accomplished when something sticky is on the floor. And the top of the ‘fridge- well, I never see that so why in the world would I clean it??
People, this was a shock to me. I guess I’m not actually a clean person, simply a tidy one. Everything LOOKS clean, but it’s really not.
And sometimes I think our spiritual lives are like that. We are really good at keeping them tidy. We know all the right things to say and do and on the surface level, everything LOOKS clean, but it’s really not. Like the Pharisees that Jesus spoke to, we become like whitewashed tombs, that look clean and beautiful on the outside, but inside are full of nasty things. (Matt. 23)
This is where accountability with believers plays such a key role in our relationships. Sometimes we have blind spots. I don’t think I ever would have come to the conclusion that I need to clean my house more if someone hadn’t been honest with me and pointed it out. I would have continued in the bliss that my life was fine. Our hearts are the same way. Many times there are areas that WE can’t see because we are blind to our own sin. We need other people to come alongside and lovingly point those things out to us. We need to do the same thing to those around us.
Otherwise you may end up with a life that very tidy on the surface, but not truly clean underneath.