Two Kinds of Dirt

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.

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10 thoughts on “Two Kinds of Dirt

  1. Thanks for this good insight. I think that “yucky” experience is what prompts many Christian woman to want to separate from the world around them. It’s good to be reminded that we are not victims if we are in Christ. His grace is sufficient for all of this life.

  2. Boy, is this timely. My mother and I have for the past few days been dealing with an unbeliever publicly saying very nasty things about us. When my husband read all our correspondence, he said he was very proud of me – and I feel like we handled the situation very well. But I still just feel murky. More prayer is in order.

  3. Have you been here with me in the spirit? How on earth did you just happen to post about the VERY thing I’ve been struggling with lately.

    As a recovering muddy truck driver (someone who has been angry and bitter and gotten into some major mire and filth) I think I should have more grace and mercy toward the person(s) who continue(s) to spray the mud. Yet, I find myself almost tormented by it. Tormented because I understand it and hate it and want nothing to do with it anymore, and tormented because I feel so bad that they continue to sink deeper into their mud pit. Does that make sense? But I have to keep reminding myself that Jesus is the only Savior. My anxiety over it won’t help anyone.

    Thanks for writing this Nancy, I really need to meditate on it and figure out how to apply it in my situation.

  4. One way we get guiltily dirty from unguilty dirt is to take up an offense. Hearing gossip often tempts one to that. Of course one can’t always help hearing, but one can learn not to listen.

    (According to Google, “preventatively” has been made up 194,000 times before — more than twice as many as “unguilty” — so I think you’re safe!)

  5. Nancy, I was standing around munching on home-made nachos, (it’s 11:30 here in Pittsburgh) sipping on a coke, and meditating on your post when the Holy Spirit brought to mind this verse:

    1 Corinthians 6:11
    “And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.”


  6. I’ve always wondered what Jesus prayed about when he kept praying all night, especially since he had no sins of his own to confess. Maybe your post sheds a little light on at least one thing he might have been doing. It’s difficult to even imagine how he must have felt living among all us messy sinners.

  7. So what do you do when you were the one doing the mud-slinging (blowing up at your child) and you feel horrible and you ask forgiveness and you still feel yucky and dirty….? Some days it feels like God hasn’t forgiven me…am I not confessing rightly? Have I been forgiven but refuse to see it?

  8. I am a new reader to your site and appreciate your posts. Several years ago I worked at a local bakery where I was the only Christian. I was shocked at the gossip, backbiting,lies, etc. going on among adult women. I determined to keep my mouth shut, smile, be as friendly and outgoing as possible without engaging in those conversations. I wasn’t snooty but just refused to walk in the flesh in the world. Is ‘snooty’ a word? 🙂 After being there for 2 years I was told by a co-worker I was the only person my manager never complained about. That isn’t kudos to me, but to Christ in me, the Holy Spirit filling me so I could exhibit the fruit of the Spirit rather than the flesh. Not to say I am perfect in every situation, but when I fail, grace abounds!

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