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One Bite at a Time

I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
Philippians 1:6 (HCSB)

Series Focus: Cleaning House

Overwhelmed by the piles of clutter and dust, the daunting task of cleaning the house stared me down and paralyzed me. Numb and at a loss, I recounted my mother’s words when I was a child: “Your bedroom looks like a tornado hit it!” And at this moment of distress, I could say the same of my entire house. Confession: I am not a natural-born cleaner and organizer. Organized chaos is a familiar backdrop.

The same story could be told when we examine our minds, bodies, spirits, emotions, and attitudes. Life can be super-messy—in many areas and all at the same time! Trying to clean ourselves up and get everything right all at once is overwhelming. Many times, we attempt to change multiple things simultaneously. We set unrealistic goals and expectations, only to fail miserably and give up on the entire process.

Whether cleaning our homes or cleaning up ourselves, we can apply this same principle: Do it one bite at a time. One task at a time. One step at a time. Master one habit at a time. The big picture is too much for us to successfully apply our attention and effort. Defeat lurks at the door of our multiple unrealistic self-inflicted expectations. When we minimize the focus and identify the smallest of tasks, we realize little intermediate successes. Those small accomplishments fuel our engagement and commitment to the goal and propel us into mastery.

Often, when faced with enormous tasks, we don’t know where to even begin. The important thing is that we START! God encourages us in Ecclesiastes 8:6 (HCSB):

For every activity there is a right time and procedure, even though man’s troubles are heavy on him.

No matter the project, the time has come to begin, and there is a procedure to follow. In cleaning house, it may start with the simple task of making your bed every morning. By completing this chore at the beginning of each day, you’ve already accomplished one thing to keep your house a little tidier. Once mastered, you can move on to something else…like putting a load of laundry away as soon as it comes out of the dryer or emptying the dirty dishes out of the sink each evening. Developing the systems and procedures that work for you is unique to you.

The cleaning procedures and activities for our spiritual houses—minds, bodies, souls, spirits—will look a little different. But the principle remains the same. It’s a process. The author of 1 Peter 2:1-5 (HCSB) gives us some insight and instruction:

So rid yourselves of all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all slander. Like newborn infants, desire the pure spiritual milk, so that you may grow by it for your salvation, ince you have tasted that the Lord is good.  Coming to Him, a living stone—rejected by men but chosen and valuable to God—you yourselves, as living stones, are being built into a spiritual house for a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

Take one thing at a time. What specifically do you wrestle with in your spirit? Do you lean toward behaviors or actions that aren’t very pure? Are there things you wish you hadn’t said or done? Don’t linger in a place of condemnation. But if conviction has come, pay attention to God’s leading and allow Him to help you clean that part of you up—one detail at a time. Through the promise of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit, God is building you and me up into a holy house for Him.

My mother was brilliant in teaching her brood how to keep a clean house. She prepared a monthly chore list, assigning each child three chores to perform each week. When the month changed, the chore list changed. So each child learned how to vacuum, dust, empty wastebaskets, clean bathrooms, wash woodwork, and more. In addition, with seven children, each child was assigned a day of the week. On each child’s day, that child helped prepare the family meal and clean up the kitchen. Mom implemented the system; the kids followed the processes; and the result yielded a clean house…if we all cooperated.

This week, seek God’s instruction and wisdom in your life. Read at least one verse daily and think about it throughout the day. Let the scriptures be your daily bread. As you think about the Word, it will help “clean up your kitchen.” In addition, what three small tasks could you implement this month to help you clean house? Maybe it’s making the bed each morning, squeegeeing the shower after use, and putting the clean clothes away. Perhaps it’s scheduling fifteen minutes of quiet time, choosing not to be envious, and being grateful for one thing each day.

Consider the systems and processes you can implement. The little bites each of us choose will look different. But the principle will produce the same result: a cleaner house and a holier vessel. Let’s clean up together, one bite at a time!

Holding Fast to Hope,

Scripture References: Philippians 1:6, 3:12; Ecclesiastes 8:6; 1 Peter 2:1-5


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