“What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and self-indulgence! You blind Pharisee! First wash the inside of the cup and the dish, and then the outside will become clean, too. “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs—beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity. Outwardly you look like righteous people, but inwardly your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness. Matthew 23:25-28 (NLT)
As we slowly creep our way through Home Improvement projects, the task of cleaning out the upstairs closets weighs heavy on my mind. Two decades of debris stuffed into those closets almost convinced me not to even bother. I tried to clean out oldest son’s closet when he moved out, but husband told me to leave it for our son to do. There might be something he wanted. I understand sentimental values on things. I am a historian and my job is to collect that kind of stuff for posterity. But, there must be a limit to what one family can store. As it turns out, today provided good motivation to excavate that closet. Oldest son needs his high school diploma for an application he is preparing. He was convinced it was in there even though I told him that I sent it to him last year. I am not kidding when I say that closet was stacked with boxes floor to ceiling. The more I looked at it, the madder I got. Anger is a good motivator, and I took some extra time at lunch to dive in. I barely looked into boxes filled with stuff I might have kept on a saner day. I found his high school class ring, his college commencement program, a 5th grade Science Fair prize, multiple History Fair awards, a letter from a girl in ninth grade, his favorite Teddy Bear and a trophy for winning a Civil Air Patrol academic award, but no diploma. I saved some of what was there, the things mentioned above, a few textbooks and yearbooks, a jar of antique marbles that were my grandfather’s, a trombone, a pair of skates, two soccer uniforms and a wooden treasure chest. Other than some clothes and shoes for Goodwill, I hauled most everything else down to the street to throw away. It is good to do your big cleaning on garbage day. No time for regrets. Get it bagged and down to the road before the garbage man comes. When I get home, it will be too late to have second thoughts and save anything. Now, he will have to wait until his school can prepare his transcript which will take three days. Or find it himself in the place where he currently lives. I don’t know which would feel better: to find it and save my child or to prove that I didn’t have it in the first place. What I wish I hadn’t discovered was termite wings. All this time while we have been sprucing up our house, the termites may have been chewing up the insides. It reminded me of what Jesus said about people who whitewash tombs. No matter how you see it, there is a dead person inside. Don’t be so concerned about what you look like on the outside that you don’t pay attention to your heart. Call in the ultimate Pest Control Man and ask God to clean you from the inside out.