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The Lord is the best house cleaner

iStock/Motortion
iStock/Motortion

Are you one of those super-neat-organized people? Or then again, maybe you are messy — like the guy I see in the mirror every day. And isn’t it funny how messy people tend to get married to neat people?

My wife, Cathe, is very neat and highly organized. She is always cleaning, cleaning, cleaning. I’m very grateful for all she does and I thank God every day for putting her in my life. But I am not that person.

If you tend toward being an untidy person like me, you have probably arrived at those times in your life when the mess just overwhelms you, and you say, “I just can’t live in this space any longer!” So finally, you have to do something about it, and it ends up being a very big deal. Instead of cleaning with a broom and a dustpan, you find yourself needing a shovel — or a backhoe.

To me, life shapes up like this: You can undertake the Greg way of cleaning or the Cathe way of cleaning. The Greg philosophy on cleaning is never do today which you can put off until tomorrow. And if you don’t know what to do with something, stuff it in a random drawer and forget about it. As a result, I have drawers filled with stuff — pens, rubber bands, paper clips, scraps of paper, and odds and ends I don’t even recognize anymore.

The Cathe method of cleaning and organizing is to clean a little each day and stay on top of it. If there’s dust on the floor, Greg sweeps it under a rug. Cathe sweeps up properly.

I think the same is true of the Christian life. We can be careful to maintain our relationship with God, or we can wait until major problems develop because of neglect. And suddenly that little problem is like a Goliath in your life.

You remember Goliath. He was the nine-foot-nine giant the shepherd boy David tangled with in the Valley of Elah. Was Goliath cute as a baby? I have trouble imagining that. But he surely must have been a trial at age 5, a terror at 16, and in the end, he became a lumbering monstrosity.

That’s the way it can be in our lives. Our problems start small, but little things turn into big things. Little liberties turn into big vices. Little indulgences and fascinations turn into destructive addictions. And then one day you find yourself staring up at a full-grown giant, casting a long shadow.

What we need to do is ask God to cleanse us of our sins on a regular basis. Don’t wait until it builds up to some giant problem or horrible mess. David prayed, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test my thoughts. Point out anything you find in me that makes you sad and lead me along the path of everlasting life” (Psalm 139:23-24, TLB).

In the Lord’s prayer, Jesus taught us to pray: “Give us today the food we need, and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us” (Matthew 6:11-12, NLT).

Just as surely as you should pray on a daily basis for God’s provision — your daily bread — so you should also pray on a daily basis for the forgiveness of God in your life. But when we neglect our walk with Jesus — and let the wreckage pile up in our lives — something has to happen.

In John 2:13-16 (NLT) we read this startling account:

“It was nearly time for the Jewish Passover celebration, so Jesus went to Jerusalem. In the Temple area he saw merchants selling cattle, sheep, and doves for sacrifices; he also saw dealers at tables exchanging foreign money. Jesus made a whip from some ropes and chased them all out of the Temple. He drove out the sheep and cattle, scattered the money changers' coins over the floor, and turned over their tables. Then, going over to the people who sold doves, he told them, ‘Get these things out of here. Stop turning my Father’s house into a marketplace!’”

That act of upending tables reminds me of the old Westerns we used to watch. The cowboys and gamblers would be sitting at tables in smoke-filled saloons, playing cards. Inevitably, after everybody lays their poker hands on the table, one guy turns to another and says, “I think you’re cheating.” And all of a sudden, he turns the table over. The cards go flying, the money goes flying, the dance hall girls scream and the piano player (who always wears a derby hat) stops plinking away on the piano. A massive fight breaks out, and you can usually count on someone being tossed through a window.

It's a violent act to overturn a table. It’s startling. People stop and stare. When Jesus did it in the temple, coins went flying and rolling everywhere. He did it to get their attention, of course, and it worked.

It reminds me of our own lives.

We invite Jesus to our table; we invite Him into our life. He brings, as the Bible calls it, “joy unspeakable and full of glory.” He brings us a peace that passes human understanding. It’s fantastic. Suddenly, for the first time perhaps, we have hope, we have purpose.

We say it’s great to invite Jesus to our table — until He turns it over. Because He might do that. He might come and say, “There are some things in your life that need to change. You can’t do this anymore. You can’t talk like that anymore. This is destroying you, and it’s destroying other people.”

Why does He do this? He tears something down in order to build it back right. Jesus compared it to someone pruning a fruit tree. In John 15:2 he says, “He prunes the branches that do bear fruit, so they will produce even more.” From the tree’s point of view, this is a disaster. Who wants to be pruned? Yet without the pruning, there isn’t much fruit.

We need periodic house cleanings. By the way, did you know that Jesus cleansed the temple twice? Not once, but twice. Some people are confused because they read about it two times in the Bible. One time he has a whip, the other time he doesn’t. Well, that’s because he did it two times. He cleansed the temple when he started his ministry and again, he cleansed the temple when he was bringing his earthly ministry to a close, you see.

And why did he have to cleanse it twice? Because it got cluttered again.

We come to Jesus, we repent of all these sins, the old lifestyle is gone and everything’s fresh and new. But then we make a little compromise here and lower the guard over there and next thing you know, all this stuff has come back. And it’s time for another house cleaning. It’s time for the Lord to come and say, “Let’s deal with those things.”

Jesus knows everything about you, yet He still loves you. No one knows how dark your heart is except you and no one knows how dark my heart is except me. The Bible says, “The heart is hopelessly dark and deceitful, a puzzle that no one can figure out. But I, God, search the heart and examine the mind. I get to the heart of the human. I get to the root of things. I treat them as they really are, not as they pretend to be” (Jeremiah 17:9-10, Message).

So, God sees right through you and yet loves you still. If you are seeking Him — no matter who you are or what you have done — you will find Him. Jesus will always reveal Himself to the true seeker. He says to us, “Come with as much faith as you have, and let Me change your life.”

Don’t try to clean things up before you call on Him. Come to Christ, and He’ll clean you up. He may have to turn over a table or two, but when He’s done you will be brand new inside. And there’s nothing better than that.

Greg Laurie is the pastor and founder of the Harvest churches in California and Hawaii and Harvest Crusades. He is an evangelist, best-selling author and movie producer. “Jesus Revolution,” a feature film about Laurie’s life from Lionsgate and Kingdom Story Company, releases in theaters February 24, 2023.

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