Last week our family went camping — yup, in tents! We were settled in a nice Minnesota state park, so don’t feel too sorry for us. We had bathrooms and showers and lovely walking trails. But brrr… this IS Minnesota, so it was cold!
So as the kids played in the dirt, and as we all hiked, we got a little
filthy dirty. (And a tad stinky.) I tried to take cold showers, but oh, it took a lot of teeth gritting and bravery to force myself to do it.
And when nine people live in tents for a week, things get a little disheveled. It’s just life! So teeth chattering or not, each morning we had to force ourselves to wash the dishes in the cold water and then make our beds and tidy things up a bit. Finally, we’d be ready to head to the trails, where the sun was intense and would warm us up a bit.
Cleaning up isn’t always easy. It isn’t convenient. It isn’t at the top of our list for fun and recreation.
But being clean is necessary. It keeps us healthy, and it makes us liveable to others around us.
In Titus 2:5, we find that older women are to teach the younger women to be clean:
“Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God” (Titus 2:3-5).
The word “pure” used here means to be clean. It comes from the Greek word hagios, which is similar to the Hebrew word qodesh. Derivatives of this word are often translated as holy, set apart, or saints.
Being at the campsite reminded me, though, that head knowledge of cleanliness doesn’t make me clean. I have to actually apply what I know, to continually get clean each day. Having a secure hope of eternal life isn’t the end of my life; it’s just the beginning. Once I know what my Messiah has done for me, I then begin to purify myself, out of love for Him.
“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears,we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.
Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin.No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him” (1 John 3:1-6).
The campsite also reminded me that children need to be taught how to be clean, and God’s Word says that as a woman, I need wiser, older women to come along and teach me, too. Some parts of Scripture aren’t spiritual or inspirational. They’re just practical! And I need a real-life, flesh-and-blood woman to teach me how to apply it to my life. I need to be able to ask her questions. I need to have her hold me accountable, too.
As she teaches me new ways to cleanse myself, I can react in one of two ways. I can be disgruntled, sick of “camping out” in this dirty world and ready to escape! On the other hand, I should react in repentance, which means that I change my mind and consequently, my behavior.
Paul wrote a hard letter to the congregation in Corinth, pointing out some serious sin in their midst. Sometimes older women have to be bold enough to do that to me, too. How did Corinth react? They repented! That’s how I need to react, too.
“Even if I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it. Though I did regret it—I see that my letter hurt you, but only for a little while— yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us. Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done. At every point you have proved yourselves to be innocent [clean, pure] in this matter. So even though I wrote to you, it was not on account of the one who did the wrong or of the injured party, but rather that before God you could see for yourselves how devoted to us you are. By all this we are encouraged” (2 Corinthians 7:8-13).
As I perfect cleanliness in my life, both in my heart and in my home, my husband will be strengthened. If he is a believer, he’ll be helped. If he’s an unbeliever, Scripture goes so far as to say he can be won over by my “chaste conversation” ( as the KJV translates it, meaning “pure and clean behavior”).
“Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives” (I Peter 3:1-2).
I’m glad to be home again! Camping is fun, but it makes me appreciate a clean house. May I keep my home and life clean!