As we move into March, thoughts turn to “spring cleaning,” the annual ritual of sprucing up our homes after the dark and dreary winter months. This practice may be historically rooted in the opportunity spring provided to open up windows and doors to allow seasonal winds to air out the house after the winter heating season.
We might apply the spring cleaning principle to our spiritual lives as well. It is good to open our hearts to God’s loving and thorough evaluation of our thoughts, attitudes, and habits. In Psalm 139, as the psalmist closes this song highlighting God’s always present and all-knowing nature, we read this invitation: “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24).
Anyone who has opened a neglected closet and encountered a dank, musty odor knows the potential problems inherent in long-closed, seldom-explored spaces. Certainly, God welcomes our invitation to air out and open up our thoughts, motivations, and desires to the cleansing wind of His Spirit.
God gives some Biblical direction about what we should sweep out of our lives in this process. We are instructed in Ephesians 4:31 to “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.” James 1:21 challenges us to “…get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.” Further, 2 Corinthians 7:1 directs us to “…purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.”
In addition to clearing out the dusty broken remains of the long winter, spring cleaning at times includes some additions—new paint, perhaps, or a new entry rug to swap for the one stained by winter slush or a new chair to replace the one with the broken leg. Similarly, as we allow God to show us the places in need of cleansing, we should also seek His heart for anything He would lead us to build into our lives. As 2 Peter 1:5-7 suggests, we should “…make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.”
As we head into another spring season, I encourage us to invite the Holy Spirit to do some spring cleaning work in our spiritual lives. Allow me to close with another passage that highlights the importance of allowing God to show us how we might facilitate this process: “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:22-24).