Now that I am a married woman with a home of my own, things run a little differently than they did in the home of my childhood. For one thing: I hate clutter. I despise it. That doesn't mean I don't contribute to the clutter around my home. But I don't like it. That doesn't mean that I don't have clutter. It just means I don't like it. I do like things to look nice and neat. Sometimes I succeed and sometimes I do not. But here is an interesting phenomenon that occurs in my house. (It may or may not happen in yours.) It does not matter how clean my kitchen is, or how clean the bathroom is, or the living room...someone is still going to place a dirty dish on the counter instead of taking the extra step and placing it in the dishwasher.
What does all of this have to do with anything spiritual or scriptural? you may ask...
In Luke Chapter 11 Jesus is casting out demons and the people are speaking against Him. In verses 24-26 Jesus talks about what happens when a demon is cast out of someone.
Luke 11:24-26 "When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he says, 'I will return to my house from which I came.' (25) And when he comes, he finds it swept and put in order. (26) Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first."
So here, let's go back to the clean house I was talking about to start this post. After I have cleaned the house, it is necessary to continue to clean the house to keep it in a state of cleanliness. I have to dust the furniture regularly. I have to make the bed every day. I have to clean the bathroom regularly, and sometimes more than once a week. I have to continually pick up stray items from the dining room table. If I don't do these things regularly the filth and clutter will stack up on me until it is an overwhelming job to get it back to a state of cleanliness. Much is the same as the demon being cast out in the above scriptures. When it can't find a place to go, it returns to its original dwelling place - and it brings seven of its buddies that are WORSE than it is to live with it in the clean, swept out, EMPTY space. Not only that, but the person that allows those negative emotions, hurts, angers, etc. to return will end up worse off than he or she began. Of course, the house is an analogy for our hearts. So, how do we keep our hearts clean? What are we supposed to fill our hearts with to prevent the return of cluttered thoughts, worldy views, and negative emotions?
Galatians 5:19-24 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, (20) idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, (21) envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (22) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, (23) gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. (24) And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
The first three fruits of the spirit are love, joy, and peace. When we are cleaning out ourselves and allowing the Lord to heal us of hurts and scars, we have to replace the hurt with something: love, joy, and peace. If we do not, then hurt builds resentment, which gives birth to anger, which damages relationships. We are told in Colossians to PUT OFF these behaviors.
Colossians 3:8-11 But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. (9) Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, (10) and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, (11) where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.
Put off is an action. It is one we choose to perform. Much like taking our clothes off to take a shower, we are to strip ourselves of the behavior we participated in prior to salvation. Yes, it is easier said than done. Oh my goodness, don't I know how much easier it is to talk about then to put into action? But like most things, it is an action we have to practice until it is second nature. As a musician I could not pick my instrument up and immediately be a concert level musician or a master at my instrument. I had to put hours of practice into mastering my instrument. I had to make many, many mistakes until I could make that key change correctly without messing it up. It is no different with putting off the behavior of our natural flesh, the old man. But once we have taken off the behavior of the old man, we are to replace it with something.
Colossians 3:12-15 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; (13) bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. (14) But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. (15) And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.
So, as the elect of God, a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, we are to PUT ON mercy, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering (patience), and forgiveness...just as Christ forgave us. But what is the most important item to put on, to fill the empty places we have cleaned out?
Paul calls it the bond of perfection. But it is something we have to practice. Yes, we have to practice loving others. We have to practice forgiving others. We have to practice bearing with one another. We have to practice letting the peace of God rule in our hearts. We need to ensure we are growing the fruits of the Spirit and tending to the empty places of our hearts so they are filled with the love of God, the peace that passes all understanding and the joy of the Lord so when resentment, anger, hatred, hurts attempt to return to us, they have no place to dwell. They do not clutter our witness to the world.
What do you have in your life today that you have allowed to clutter your heart? What do you need to practice in your life today?
Join the discussion on our Facebook page.
Do you have a prayer request or a praise report you want to share? Email us and let us pray with you.