Now, I have to admit that I tend to be somewhat of a tightwad. So, as the level of soap goes down in the various dispensers, I will add tap water in an attempt to make the soap last longer. Of course, the problem with this approach is that, over time, the resultant concoction consists less and less of watered down soap and more and more of soapy water.
Thus it is that, once a month or so, my wife will recognize the need to end this whole charade. She will then refill the soap dispensers outright. She does this by dumping out my soapy water and then completely refilling them from the large plastic bottle of liquid soap refill that sits under the kitchen sink.
As a result, the soap dispensers suddenly serve a genuine purpose again. And in my heart, I know this.
You see, the problem with using the diluted soapy mixture I create is that it takes more and more of it to actually accomplish the job. By contrast, when genuine soap is dispensed, it only takes a small amount to do a thorough job of cleansing one’s dirty hands.
It strikes me that, as a follower of Christ, I function best when I undergo a regular cleansing out and renewed infusion of His wondrous Spirit. And yet, honesty compels me to state that, for a variety of reasons, including both greed and selfishness, I sometimes do things that only serve to crowd out His presence in my life. The inevitable result is a spiritual life that is, sadly, watered down and unproductive.
Of course, the good news in all of this is that my God is faithful and true. He knows my frailty. He knows my tendencies. And yet, in his grace, He patiently waits for me to come to the realization that I have become diluted in my heart –that my loyalties have been divided and my productiveness has been compromised. And when I do, He graciously allows me to undergo a thorough emptying out and replenishing of my life.
The result is that I find myself much more efficient in the things that I have been called to do for Him. And usually, the effects are almost immediately recognizable - not only by me, but by others as well.
David, who was described I the Bible (in I Samuel 13:14 and again in Acts 13:22) as “a man after God’s own heart” understood this principle. There were times in his life when he was clearly in the center of God’s will. In these times, he knew the joy and peace that comes with being and doing all God intended in his life.
At the same time, being human, he also knew the guilt and sorrow that a believer experiences whenever God’s presence is crowded out of the heart as it is increasingly filled with other pursuits. Quite frankly, he stooped so low as to commit adultery and then cover it up with what can only be described as premeditated murder.
And yet, God did not give up on him. He waited David out. And when he finally broke, David turned back to God and sought forgiveness and cleaning. God graciously granted these things and restored David’s joy.
Later, David penned the words to one of the most memorable Psalms in all of Scripture: Psalm 51. The sub-heading states: “For the director of music. A psalm of David. When the prophet Nathan came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba.” The text of the Psalm reads…
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.
For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge. Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb; you taught me wisdom in that secret place.
Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity.
Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
Then I will teach transgressors your ways, so that sinners will turn back to you. Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, you who are God my Savior, and my tongue will sing of your righteousness. Open my lips, Lord, and my mouth will declare your praise. You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.
May it please you to prosper Zion, to build up the walls of Jerusalem. Then you will delight in the sacrifices of the righteous, in burnt offerings offered whole; then bulls will be offered on your altar.
David knew what it was like to need cleansing and renewal. Praise God, when he sought it, he found it. And the same holds true for me and you. As the Apostle John, writing to believers, says in his First New Testament Letter (1 John 1:9), “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
Amen. Thank God for His grace, His marvelous grace that, as the hymn writer has so beautifully put it, is “grace that will pardon and cleanse within, grace that is greater than all our sin”!