Clean up the Mess … and Life

rubik s cube on book
Photo by Igor Alshin on

Saturday morning and you tell your child that before she does anything else she needs to clean her bedroom because you are now at the point that once you’re IN the room, you need a GPS to get out. (Or whatever the phrase is that you use at your house.)

You know the script. Most parents (except maybe those who might have Marie Kondo kid clones) have said things like this. The child reluctantly turns on her music and disappears in the maze of dirty clothes, papers, stuffed animals, markers, and other bits and pieces that neither you nor your child can identify.

She is in there a LONG time. You’re teaching responsibility so you don’t check on her. Besides, you hear movement and once she even made a trek to the trash can with her arms full, so you let her go.

A few hours later, she triumphantly emerges. “I’m done!”

And now for the inspection. You walk in and find all the books on the bookshelf lined up according to height. Three more pictures have been attached to the back of her door. Her clothes have been color coordinated. The stuff animals are lined up on her bed …

But —

— The floor isn’t vacuumed.

— Dust covers the furniture.

— The bed is semi-made, but not really and it’s obvious she didn’t change the sheets as you asked.

— A few clothes are still on back of the chair.

— And the few cleaning supplies she did use are left on the floor.

You sigh. All that time. What she did, she did well – but she majored on the minors and totally missed the big picture.

I thought about this as I cleaned the bathroom this morning. Earlier, before I got out of bed, I had listened to a message on my phone about being aware of what’s happening around us in regard to disobedience to God.

And the two came together in my mind. We all (including kids) have parts of our lives where we do just fine. (We would NEVER, EVER think of stealing something from a store shelf.) Yet, there are other parts of our life that we overlook or ignore. We choose not to even think about them. Maybe (like clothes hanging over the back of a chair or the dust on the bookcase) if we don’t pay attention, no one else will notice either.

We self-righteously rejoice in the part we have right and feel super-spiritual because after all … look at me! First of all, the Lord says all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags. We can’t be good on our on.

Second, Matthew (7:3) wrote: Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?

This verse is coming from a slightly different perspective, but the message is the same. We worry about the sins of others but ignore what’s happening in our own lives.

And what better illustration is a room organized and “cleaned” by a 10-year-old?

The next time your child proudly shows you her cleaning skills … but misses the big picture …

*Tell her you like what she accomplished.

*Help her finish the things she didn’t do.

*Use it as an illustration of our lives – the few parts we have cleaned up don’t make up for the dirty parts still there.

Let’s not rest in the things that don’t tempt us and ignore, overlook, or justify the things that do.


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