Cleanliness is next to Godliness…

This phrase was first recorded in a sermon by John Wesley in 1778. But the idea is ancient, found in Babylonian and Hebrew religious tracts.

But how true is it?

Does the standard of our personal hygiene or living quarters really denote being nearer to God?

I’ve felt guilty at times about what I will term here as – my ‘habit.’ Also, at times, people have made me feel guilty about it; and I’ve been ‘told off a few times for it. But it hasn’t stopped it.

Anyway, as I hate feeling guilty or upsetting people, the subject in hand started me thinking of how actually wrong my ‘habit’ may be – even though I make sure the Lord’s work doesn’t suffer because of it. So I get up very early to cater to my ‘habit’ – but only after my time with Him.

My Godly Mother certainly didn’t have my habit, so I didn’t inherit it from her. I suppose anyone who has a ‘habit’ can probably point to a time when their habit started. And looking back, I know exactly when mine did.

It was when we were unexpectedly called to take the gospel to gypsies living in the mountain caves of Almeria, Spain. On arrival, I was in shock at the filth, disease, clouds of flies, and animals and humans all dwelling together. I was so petrified by the umpteen bugs, spiders, and lizards, I felt the only way to keep them away from anywhere near me – was to do something they’d hate! And it was to become a cleanaholic! And it worked! So my habit was forming right there on a mission-field!

I’m looking forward to my bespoke mansion in heaven where my ‘habit’ will be well and truly over there. No dust, rust, grease, dirt, weeds, or anything to clean ever again!

As I wanted to know more about this ‘Cleanliness is next to Godliness’ thing I started Bible-searching. I notice in Leviticus how meticulous and time-consuming God’s cleansing laws were. How could anyone keep up to those – and for what? But then I realised they were for a reason. Cleanliness kept deadly diseases at bay. In those days it was mainly leprosy (these days we have new diseases). But leprosy was also a lesson on sin. Sin and leprosy start from the inside, but once become fully developed on the outside, causes numbness of tissue, which reminded me of the ‘seared conscience’ the Apostle Paul spoke of.

Anyway, from Scripture, and from some common sense, I was learning something from this Cleanliness is next to Godliness.

*Cleanliness is being grateful. It denotes we care for, and appreciate what God has given us. No guilt in that then (unless of course we become like Martha who put her kitchen before time with the Master).

*Cleanliness is being responsible. “She looks well to the way to the ways of her household” (Proverbs 31). When we look after what we have they last longer, reducing replacements (Luke 16:10). No guilt in that either.

*Cleanliness is being diligent. There are many Scriptures that God disapproves of idleness,“She doesn’t eat the bread of idleness” (Proverbs 31: 27). “The diligent will rule” (Proverbs 12:24). No guilt there.

*Cleanliness is effective. It’s important for killing germs and modern day ‘plagues‘… and ‘things’ that could be living and breeding behind ‘things’ that could bite! (any guilt I did have ends here!)

However, the Lord had a lot to say against those who were scrupulous on the outside. He called them ‘whited sepulchres as their nice clean exterior hid an unclean interior! So perhaps both is best, clean outside and inside!

In Bible days, God spoke a lot about having ‘idols’ and other gods But it wasn’t about something we have or enjoy, becauseGod has given us all things richly to enjoy” (1 Timothy 6:17). So don’t worry if you merely enjoy certain things (like I enjoy cleaning – or more the result of it) that it is your ‘idol’.

You can easily see what the world’s idols are: celebrities, pop-singers, footballers, film stars. They adore them. They applaud them. They praise them. They copy them. They follow their example and advice as they are like gods to them, “Go and cry out to the gods you have chosen. Let them save you when you are in trouble” (Judges 10:14). Even Christians run here, there, and everywhere to get a glimpse of a preacher they look to and idolise, who then lets them down by going off the rails, “Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help” (Psalm 146:3).

In the Bible they looked to their idol instead of looking to God. And it hurt God to see it just like today… “My people have forgotten Me. They burn incense to worthless gods” (Jeremiah 18:15).

“Why have they provoked Me with their graven images, with foreign idols? (Jeremiah 8:19). Spiritual adultery.

I know of Christians, who look to their horoscope for daily advice and guidance! It’s an insult to the Lord.

You or I, don’t have much to worry about, IF we only take advice from Him, and His word, rather than from any celebrity, star, horoscope, or any other ungodly source, “The Lord is the true God; He is the living God and everlasting King” (Jeremiah 10:10).

It’s a disturbing day today for the United Kingdom, who have their first Hindu Prime Minister who says his ‘faith’ is very dear to him. Hindus have a shrine in their home and look to their idol for advice. I’m sure the new PM will be thanking his for making him Prime Minister.

Jesus said: Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God”

You are pure in heart if what HE says, is over and above all, what anyone else may say to the contrary.

‘Pure’ does not mean we are to be perfect, as the Lord knows we cannot be.

Definition of Pure: singleness of heart; not mixed; sterile; unadulterated.

You are ‘Pure in Heart if you worship, adore, and look only to the true and living God for help, guidance, and truth,.

“Choose this day whom you will serve. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. (Joshua 24:15).

“Though all people walk each in the name of their god. As for us, we will walk in the name of of the Lord our God forever and ever” (Micah 4:5).

God bless you,

Christine Smith.

Copyright. Living Devotions UK.

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By Christine Smith