by Ken Kelley
Signs of the coming spring have already popped up. I welcomed the sight of the first blooms on our paperwhites knowing they are but the first of many beautiful signs of the renewal of life to come in the next few weeks. Unfortunately, spring also brings a few weeds as well. Now comes the task of nurturing the good and destroying the bad.
The word Lent comes from the shortened form of an Old English word meaning “spring." You might think of it as 40 days of spring cleaning for the soul. Jesus spent 40 days in the desert preparing for His ministry, and, likewise, Lent should be our time to reflect on our spiritual health and condition in preparation for our role as Christ’s body in the world. By God’s grace, we are cleansed through Christ when we confess our sins and ask for forgiveness.
We need not only have the faith to believe that God will forgive us, but we must also forgive ourselves. We can’t be at peace with God if we’re not at peace with ourselves. We can’t do God’s work in the world to the best of our ability if we’re living our life in guilt for some past deed.
In a like manner, if we’re not forgiving someone else of their past offenses against us, we aren’t living in Christ’s image and will waste too much time and energy brooding over something that we should have left in the past where it belongs.
Paul was an experienced missionary when he wrote his second letter to Timothy, who was much younger. In chapter 2, verses 20 -22 encourage Timothy to purify himself from what is dishonorable to be a vessel fit for God’s use. They follow verses describing the “Godless chatter” of false teachers and encouragement by Paul for Timothy to endeavor to be a “sound workman” and handle the word rightly.
Today, Godless chatter is as close as the next commercial on television. As an example, I recently saw an ad for an SUV which stated that we can be good – a dear person, a good husband, just generally good, but that’s not good enough. If you drive this SUV you’ll be king of the hill, at the top of your game, all powerful- like a boss. Let’s read what Timothy said after describing the Godless chatter of his day.
20 Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. 21 Therefore, if anyone cleanses [themselves] from what is dishonorable, [they] will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work. 22 So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.
In verse 20, we can think of the great house as the church and us as the vessels, and in verse 21 we can become holy by cleansing ourselves from unclean thoughts and unacceptable actions. In other words, we can grow closer to Christ and become more Christlike when we confess our faults to ourselves and to God and ask for forgiveness from ourselves and from God. At that point, we are ready for God to use us for God’s purposes.
Furthermore (vs 22), we should strive for a pure heart through the pursuit of righteousness (moral thought and behavior), faith (trust in God), love (attitude and action of commitment to God and others) and peace (harmonious relationship with God and others).
Paul’s words encourage us to spend our Lenten journey with Jesus in the desert, sorting out our lives in order for us to follow His example in ministry to the world.
May the spring cleaning of your soul lead to a life lived in peace with who you are, at peace with God, and at peace with others, and may you discover new ways to use the gifts you have to share God’s love with the world.
I hope to see you in worship Sunday.