Recently, I cleaned out my refrigerator. A DEEP clean. The type where you pull out every single item, and every single shelf, and scrub clean each shelf one at a time before replacing it and the food.
In the process, you find things that are disgusting, like rotten food that has gotten shoved to the back and long forgotten. Half consumed containers of various moldy items, and even worse, rotten produce in the bottom of the crisper drawers. As if that is not enough, there are stains from food spillage, and sometimes even crusties caked in the bottom of the fridge, and on the edge of the glass shelves, hidden by the plastic racks holding it.
I do a deep clean of my fridge 2-3 times per year. My OCD friends might gasp in disgust and proclaim, “You do it THAT INFREQUENTLY?? Not once a month??” On the other hand, the stereotypical bachelor might look at me oddly that I do it at all. Just being honest, people. Let he who has a spotless fridge cast the first stone.
As I was deep into the filthy task, I thought of a fitting parallel between that and repentance of sins for the Christian.
As my OCD friends might rightly point out, if I cleaned my fridge more often, it wouldn’t be as big and disgusting of a job. I can’t deny that.
In the same way, when as followers of Christ we ignore our sin and let it build up for long periods, things get … gross.
Contempt for those we don’t like and showing partiality to those who we think can give us something in return leaves a stain.
Pride and self-righteousness, looking down our noses at detestable sinners (like we once were) reveals the putrid, repulsive contents of our hearts.
Lips that are quick to talk about others behind their backs and call people names are fouler than a moldy jar of … whatever that black disgustingness is that I just pulled out from the rear of the fridge.
You get the idea.
As Christians, who have been justified by faith (Romans 3), repented of our sins and trusted in Christ for the redemption that comes through His sacrifice, which paid the price for our sins once and for all, Scripture assures us that we are clean before God (Romans 5:1).
As Christ alluded to in John 13, while washing His disciples’ feet:
So He came to Simon Peter. He said to Him, “Lord, do You wash my feet?” Jesus answered and said to him, “What I do you do not realize now, but you will understand hereafter.” Peter said to Him, “Never shall You wash my feet!” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.” Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, then wash not only my feet, but also my hands and my head.” Jesus said to him, “He who has bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean,”
– John 13:6-10a
On a purely physical level, Peter was hesistant to have his Lord and Savior perform a servant’s task for him. But when Jesus insisted, Peter went all in, even to the point of bossing Jesus around, not understanding the point.
On a spiritual level, the foot washing could be understood as a metaphor for a provisional cleansing, for lack of a better term. The disciples, as followers of Jesus, were already spiritually clean. But as they, and us, move throughout the day, dust (sins) accumulate, which still need to be cleansed.
Just as a person who rarely washes his feet can become stinky to those around them, so one who avoids the cleansing that comes from regular repentance can become spiritually odious to God (and often to others as well) as his or her habitual sins pile up, gathering stench in their lives.
God calls the Christian to “work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12). One of the key ways to do that is to identify, and repent of, sin in every area of our lives, regularly. As we are cleansed “by the washing of water with the word” (Ephesians 5:26) and continually seek God in prayer, He kindly reveals to us specific instances and areas of sin in our lives.
Confessing and repenting of those things in light of a perfectly holy God is a humbling experience. As is tossing rotten jars of food and scrubbing nasty stains off shelves. The analogy falls short and may be perceived as irreverent, but it seems somewhat fitting.
Just as waiting for months to clean out the fridge yields a lot more scrubbing, so putting off the task of humbly coming before God makes it all the more humbling and painful, both unnecessarily so.
My fellow Christian, I hope you see the point. My sincere prayer is that you do not hinder the process of your sanctification by avoiding regular, heartfelt time in prayer, allowing God to search your heart and show you how you err (Psalm 19:12-13, Psalm 139:23-24).
The joyful fellowship with God that comes as a result is worth it.
Comments, questions – holler! As always, thank you so much for reading!