I hate washing dishes. Probably because I still associate it with punishment. When I was a kid growing up in Grandma’s house if I did something wrong, that was my penance — get my rebellious little behind into the kitchen, stand in front of the sink, and scrub. Somehow still today I think I must have committed some grievous sin every time I put a dish in the water.
Since it’s something I really don’t like (but because I really do enjoy cooking for my family, and cleaning simply goes with the territory) I’ve developed a system. I wash every dish, utensil, pot, and pan as I go. That way when I finish cooking and eating there’s not a single item left to clean. I seem better able to withstand the ordeal if I don’t have to suffer the punishment all at once.
You, however, may love to washes dishes. Some folks really enjoy it, so you may not relate to the dish washing thing. But I’ll assert there’s something in your life that you really don’t like doing. And I’ll also assert that you’ve done something wrong you’re being chastised for. That is, unless, unlike me, and instead like Jesus, you walk on water.
No one enjoys correction, but I realize now that when Grandma corrected me as a kid it was really for my own good, and she did it only because she loved me and wanted what was best for me. For example, playing with matches and lawnmower gas and nearly burning down the garage when I was eight was definitely not something to go unchallenged (a story for another time…).
And I also now see a connection that I never made. Washing was a shadow of what was really taking place in my life — we’re all dirty dishes, but when we accept Christ He washes us to make us clean.
If we are born-again Christians and truly children of God we will go through times of washing and correction — and we will go through them often. The Holy Spirit is helping us take off the old ways and put on the new ones. The flesh dies hard, but we should actually welcome God’s discipline showing us the errors we are making.
My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline
or be weary of his reproof,
for the Lord reproves him whom he loves,
as a father the son in whom he delights.
– Proverbs 3:11-12 ESV
For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
– Hebrews 12:10-11 ESV
The problem comes in when we rebel against this and still want to do things our own way instead of dealing with reality. The devil will try to use this tactic against us when possible. He tells us that it’s okay, it’s not that bad, and that our dishes really aren’t that dirty.
But they’re filthy compared to God’s standard of perfection. Our dishes always need washing. But thankfully the atoning blood of the Lord Jesus Christ washes the dish of our spirit, and that precious gift of grace has cleansed us and continues to clean us in wonderful ways the devil is powerless to soil.
However, although we are forgiven in spirit when we accept Jesus, our flesh must still be trained to submit to holiness. Justification happens in an instant, but sanctification is a work that continues, just like keeping the dishes clean, for the rest of our lives.
If we’re not careful, and we ignore the quiet voice of the Holy Spirit and instead heed the shouts of our flesh and of the enemy, sin can stack up in our lives just the same as dirty dishes can fill the sink and counter.
And then we have a mess on our hands.
If you don’t see the dirty dishes in your own life, ask the Holy Spirit to remove the scales and open your spiritual eyes because I assure you they are there for each of us. Just like the dishes in the sink, you and I can either wash them (or more correctly submit to allowing Jesus to wash them) or ignore them. But pretending they’re not there doesn’t make them go away.
Sins, like dirty dishes, are much easier to deal with one at a time. And like dirty dishes, they tend to stack up and overrun your life if you don’t keep on top of them by confessing and repenting every day, allowing the Holy Spirit to lead us, convict us, correct us, and shape us into the destined image of Christ we are to become.
Now, if you’ll please excuse me, Jesus and I have some dishes to wash….