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My wife, Cathe, and I are polar opposites in a lot of areas. And neatness is one of them. She is very organized and neat. I am messy and am always surrounded by clutter. I have a hard time throwing things away. I hang on to them because I might use them one day. Because Cathe is always cleaning and I am always making messes, we really are a great pair.
But I have discovered there is a right way and a wrong way to clean up. There is the Greg way, which can be summed up in this statement: Never do today what you could put off until tomorrow. That is the motto of the procrastinator. Just deal with it at another time. Basically, throw it in a drawer. That is a great solution for me. I just throw stuff in drawers. Now I am afraid to even open them, for fear of what I will find inside.
The Cathe way to clean up, on the other hand, is to organize something properly. While I sweep things under the rug, she picks up the rug up and cleans underneath it.
The Greg way of cleaning is, by the way, the wrong one. The Cathe approach is the way to take.
In life, some will follow the Greg way in dealing with messes, which is to make a few exterior changes, but never deal with the significant problems on the inside. Others will follow the Cathe way, which is to get to the core of the problem, the source of the mess, and then remove it.
It reminds me of the time we got into our car one morning, and it smelled like onions. Cathe had driven it the night before and apparently had stopped at her favorite drive-through. I said, “You ate in the car on the way home, didn’t you? I don’t care, but an onion got loose.”
So we went on a search for the errant onion. Cathe thought she found it, but even so, I was smelling onions for a while afterward.
When there is a stink in our lives, there is a source to it as well. And we need to get to that source and deal with it.
On two separate occasions, Jesus recognized a stink, so to speak, in the temple at Jerusalem and proceeded to do a little housecleaning. He went and drove out those who were conducting business in the temple. These men were preying on the people instead of praying for the people. They were taking advantage of them and keeping them from God. This angered Jesus, so he drove them out.
Sometimes, when we fall short in a seemingly small area of our lives, that little thing begins to grow, and it becomes a big problem.
It reminds me of a true story I read about a man in England who actually owned a pet scorpion. Now, I have had a variety of pets over the years. I have had dogs, birds, fish and every kind of reptile, from lizards to turtles to snakes. I have even had salamanders and newts and so forth. But I have never had a scorpion (or a cat). Why would anyone want a scorpion, which is known for pinching and attacking? Yet this man had a pet scorpion.
Even stranger was that every night, according to the article, the man would kiss his pet scorpion goodnight. Well, one evening he took his little scorpion, put him in his hand, and went to kiss him. Much to his surprise, the scorpion gave him a pinch on the lip. As he screamed in horror, the scorpion jumped in the man’s mouth and also got him on the tongue. The man couldn’t believe that his beloved scorpion would do such a thing.
The first thing that came to mind after reading that story was, What kind of idiot kisses a scorpion? But I could just as easily ask, What kind of idiot underestimates the power of temptation? It is the small things that always turn into big things. Then we are shocked when they turn around, bite us and hurt us.
That is how it was with the temple in Jerusalem in Jesus’ day. Little messes had turned into big messes. So Jesus showed up to clean house. He cleansed the temple once, but the moneychangers came back, so He cleansed it again.
Does your temple need cleansing? Are there some things in your life that shouldn’t be there right now? Are there some vices, some bad habits that have found their way back into your life? Or maybe they are things you never did, but now you have started doing them – and those things are wrong.
One of the strange things is that when people start to drift away spiritually and ultimately turn their backs on God, sometimes they are worse off than they were before. The apostle Peter wrote about this, saying, “When people escape from the wickedness of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and then get tangled up and enslaved by sin again, they are worse off than before” (2 Peter 2:20 NLT).
Don’t think this couldn’t happen to you. No one falls away all at once. It is always little things that are turning into big things. Therefore, we need constant cleansing.
So take the Cathe approach to cleaning things up. Clean it up now. Don’t let something small turn into a giant, stinking mess. Deal with it now.