We have hard water at our house. I am not a big fan of water softener water, but hard water has its drawbacks. I notice orange stains building up in the bottom of the bathroom sinks over the course of time. It isn't that we don't clean the sinks, but normal spray and the strength of my children means that hard water stains build up over time. So every once in a while, I will use Borax / washing soda or Comet to scrub away the stains.
This morning, when I went to look in the shower, I noticed the hard water stains had made some less than attractive patterns on the inside of the shower. You could see where the water slowly drips down the tub surround, leaving darker streaks of stains. You could see the extra buildup around the tub mat where water tends to dry up rather than go down the drain. It was time for a cleaning. So I rolled up my sleeves (metaphorically, since I was wearing a t-shirt) and scrubbed the stains away. Each time I cleaned an area, it revealed another dirty area that was hard to notice with the really dirty area next to it. In the end, I cleaned the entire tub and surround, and cleaned out the drain.
So today, I got to thinking, which type of dirt is more dangerous? At this point, I guess it would be helpful to draw the spiritual parallel that was building in my mind. As believers, there are two ways that we can get 'dirty', or mired by sin. We can fall in a big way and cake big, thick, heavy sin on ourselves in a matter of minutes through a wrong choice or through willful disobedience. The response to this type of sin is often a quick repentance and cleansing from the sin.
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
- I John 1:9
The other way we can get 'dirty' with sin is by allowing small sins to build over time. We get so that we don't notice the sin, the slow manner at which the 'appearance' changes leads us to believe that we are still clean. And then one day, while glancing in the mirror of God's Word, we realize how stained and disgusting our 'little' sins have led us to become. The cleansing is the same, God is faithful. But I've found in the physical world, and the spiritual world, it takes more effort to cleanse when the dirt has built up over time. It is also more deceptive because we do not sense the build up of filth until it reaches our breaking point.
So, which is more dangerous? I guess that depends on our cleaning schedule. If I took a piece of bright white plastic into the tub surround every day to compare the surround to the clean plastic, the slow build up of filth would not be a problem, I would see it early on. But if I neglect to compare the dirt to something clean, it can build up slowly and dangerously. The truth is, they are both dangers to be wary of. So what can we do? Just like comparing the tub surround to something clean and white each day would show me where work was needed, we need to compare our lives to a clean, white source. God's Word is a mirror for us to show us our filthiness. Jesus is the ultimate example, the pattern God is making us into. To defend against all types of dirt means we need to compare ourselves daily to God's Word. The written Word of the Bible, and the Word made flesh of God's Son.
As disgusted as we may get about dirt in our homes, we need to be more disgusted by that dirt called sin that slowly builds in our lives. How is your cleaning schedule doing at keeping up?