Sometimes (well, let’s be honest, often) we find ourselves begrimed in spiritual sin. We’ve told a lie, broken a promise, passed on some gossip, snapped at our child, or committed some other sin(s). Sin is falling short of God’s standard of holiness. And if we are used to keeping short accounts, we feel pretty sick about unconfessed sin. It’s awful. And we go to God to get cleansed. We repent. When we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Forgiveness is like taking a wonderful soapy bath on the inside. Forgiveness cleanses, and we feel clean.
But there is another way to get grimy. Sometimes you may be standing too close to someone else when they are spewing out sin all over the place. It could be at the office where all your co-workers are gossiping and backstabbing and taking the Lord’s name in vain. It could be at school where your classmates are lying and cheating and being disrespectful. Whenever we are in the presence of other people’s sins, we can get soiled. It’s kind of like walking too close to the curb when the big truck drives by and spatters mud all over you. You didn’t actually commit the sin yourself, but you were in the danger zone and got covered with mud. You need a bath.
Sometimes this kind of spiritual dirt makes you feel like you have sinned yourself. But the truth is, someone else did. Maybe your boss blew up at you and said all kinds of rude things that were not true, and there you were, getting covered with mud. Maybe your friend unloaded on you, spilling out all her bitterness toward the world, and now you feel yucky. You may think you must have something to confess because you feel so rotten, but when you examine your heart in the situation, you just can’t figure it out, and you still feel cruddy. Well, here’s my theory.
The Scripture says that we are to see that no root of bitterness spring up, because a root of bitterness can defile many. Other people’s anger and bitterness is contaminating, and you may be on the receiving end of their resentments. Well here’s what you can do about it.
When you’re dirty, you need to get a bath, no matter how you acquired the dirt. If you went out and rolled in a ditch, then you are to blame for being a filthy mess. But if you got blasted by that truck that hit the mud puddle, then you’re still dirty. Go to Christ and ask Him to clean you up. Ask Him to cleanse you (you need it!) and forgive you of all unrighteousness. Forgive the person who is responsible. Thank God for the way He cleanses our hearts and minds. And then quit thinking about the careless truck driver. Press on.
In the future, pray preventatively (I know, I think I made up that word). On your way to work, ask God to shield you and protect you. When your friend starts in with her load of complaints, get your guard up. Move away from the curb while you speak to her. If you start looking out for this, you may find that you can navigate away from the curb at the right moment. But even if you don’t make it in time, God can take care of both kinds of spiritual dirt.