Cover up or Clean up?

In order to protect the innocent, I’m not using real names in this story…but I want to tell you about a man named “Fred.”

Fred grew up in a home where his mom and sisters were in charge of the domestic sphere. In other words, the boys did “guy” things and the girls cooked and cleaned. Not surprisingly, Fred views housework as “women’s work.” Not a problem for Fred…he got married and his wife took on that role. That is, until they divorced. So what did Fred do? Not much. He cooked some simple meals because he got hungry, but otherwise the house just followed the natural order of things, moving from a state of order to disorder. He had a couple of boys  who did dishes and occasional chores, just to avoid total embarrassment if their friends came over.

Now the boys are grown, so what does Fred do? He lets dishes pile up in the sink. When he needs one or two, he washes them. It’s rare that he washes the whole sink full; just the ones he needs will suffice.

Fred’s sheets and mattress start to get a little smelly. What does he do? Sprays some extra strength Febreeze, of course.

And those flies continually populating around the garbage can and open containers of recyclables? Spray them with Black Flag flying insect killer!

Running out of clean clothes? It’s easier to just buy some new ones.

When it gets bad enough, the solution? Hire some help; get someone else to deal with the overwhelming mess!

No, this isn’t an indictment against Fred for laziness or even for what some might consider “chauvenistic” views on the roles of men and women. Instead, I want you to think about how you responded to Fred’s “solutions.” Did you think to yourself, “Why not just keep the garbage area cleaner if you want to eliminate pesky flies?”, or  “Spray Febreeze on dirty sheets! How disgusting! Why not just throw them in the washing machine?” Easy enough, right?

But how often do we all follow a similar pattern in our own lives, about things perhaps less obvious? When our children are disobedient, instead of correcting them and teaching them how important it is to obey God by obeying their parents, we make excuses. (“Oh, he’s been a little sick lately. He’s really not himself.” “We’ve been out of our usual routines, so she’s really acting up.”) Why do we do this? Sometimes it is a result of laziness. Or, we think these are just “little things” and we don’t want to make a big issue out of them. Trouble is, it’s like piling up garbage and half-rinsed recyclables. Eventually the flies start populating the kitchen and we find ourselves getting out nasty chemicals when all we had to do to avoid it was to keep up with the mess, little-by-little.

Or in our own personal lives, we allow little sins to creep in, which become like dirty sheets becoming smellier and smellier as the little sins snowball into bigger ones–all easily excusable until the stain and odor become overwhelming. Maybe we start by allowing ourselves to express our irritation by speaking harshly to the children. Soon, we are raising our voices and yelling. Then, we become angry and snap, “Are you stupid?” to a child who accidentally spills the milk or makes some other inconvenient mess. Little by little we have justified our actions and covered up these steps of sin, and yet now the words of Jesus remind us,

But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca, ‘ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell. (Matthew 5:22)

So instead of “covering over” our sins until they become a noisome stench, why don’t we just repent? Moment-by-moment, confess those things which are displeasing to God. Seek the grace of God that He gives so that we might grow in holiness and do the things that glorify Him. Let’s toss those proverbial sheets in the washing machine instead of spraying the Febreeze and hoping no one will notice.

I am striving to stay “clean,” not just in my home management but in my spiritual life and parenting as well. Instead of letting things pile up, I’m trying to do regular maintenance to avoid those radical “solutions” that really just amount to putting a band-aid on a gunshot wound. This means being consistent in discipling (“discipling,” not just “disciplining”) my children; being proactive in maintaining relationships; and especially abiding in Christ–seeking to walk in a manner worthy and repenting when I realize that I have fallen short.

I just want to encourage you today…don’t be a “Fred” in any area of your life! 🙂