Welcome to Spring! Each season brings a different feeling for me. As a student, summer always felt relieving with no more school and a different daily routine. Fall (my favorite) has never failed to bring excitement. You can feel it in the crisp air. Winter always brings to mind a period of dormancy where time is spent more indoors by a warm fire reflecting on the past months. But spring has an energy unlike the other seasons. Perhaps it’s the need to get outside and stretch out the legs or hear the birds singing in the trees. There is a special kind of beauty in nature this time of year. “He has made everything beautiful in its time” (Eccl. 3:11a). The bland colors of winter melt away giving place to green grass, Texas bluebonnets and Arkansas dogwoods. This energy drives some to enjoy the great outdoors through gardening, sports, or even spring cleaning.
We have been observing this custom of a more intense cleaning this time of year for generations. My great-uncle Bill would always open the front and back doors of his home in Florence, Alabama to “air out the house.” I’m not sure if that has some validity to it or if that was his way of helping Aunt Helen do their spring cleaning. There are several benefits to having a clean and tidy homestead which we have been taught for generations. First, it removes all the trash and things that are just in the way that have no usefulness. It also encourages us get to those projects that keep getting put off, like the garage or storage building. With the warmer weather, we find the need to store the sweaters, gloves and winter coats and see if the other clothes still fit that have been in the back of the closet and drawers.
These and other tasks not only are beneficial for our homes this time of year, but spiritually we need to apply these principles to our hearts. James writes, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded” (4:8). Purifying or cleansing our hearts and minds sounds like a good spring cleaning is needed in order for us to draw near to God.
Take out the trash. It has always amazed me, from the time I was growing up as one of four children even to today as I have four children, the amount of trash that can accumulate over a short period of time. (Perhaps I noticed it because it was my job to take out the trash!) If left too long, the trash would get worse and cause even more problems. In speaking to new Christians, Peter writes for them to remove some filthy characteristics from their lives. “Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking…” (1 Peter 2:1). Paul warns that if those deeds and the like remain a part of our lives, that they will prohibit us from inheriting the kingdom of God (Galatians 5:16-21).
Clean out the garage. A garage can be a catch-all for things we don’t use the time, so they just accumulate. It was always a messy job that was best done all at once. We do that with relationships sometimes. A grudge can be put away in the corner of our hearts and never dealt with so that the relationship with our brother or sister in Christ is never what it should be. Jesus said to those who had a problem with a brother, “Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Putting off this dirty project can keep us from drawing near to God and consequently, Him drawing near to us.
Remove outgrown clothes. Growth is a natural and even expected part of life. While some clothes may hold a sentimental value, others really should be tossed or given to someone who could use them. Spiritually, we are expected to grow as well. There should be a time when we know the first principles and can teach someone else those things (Heb. 5:12). Unlike outgrown clothes, we can still use and remind ourselves of what we have learned in the Lord (1 Peter 1:12). Advancing our knowledge of the word of God necessitates time spent with the word.
Time for a deep clean. My mom, and now my wife, can always tell if something has been cleaned well or just quickly wiped down. Sometimes, we would have to go back and redo (or do it right) the cleaning so it was actually clean. We have this tendency sometimes as Christians. It could be a sermon, bible class or personal Bible reading that warrants a thorough self-examination. However, we may think or even say, “I need to work on that.”, but never actually work on that. Unlike our parents or spouse, one day it will be the Lord who is examining our condition. As the psalmist writes, “Examine me, O Lord, and prove me; Try my mind and my heart” (26:2).
Spring is a time to clean out our homes, cars and garages. Though the task is dirty and sometimes frustrating, the end product will allow us to feel better and see clearly those things that are useful and beneficial for our lives. This is also a good time to removing sinful activities and thoughts from our minds so that we can replace them with spiritual things that will truly bless us. The ultimate benefit for those who have a pure heart is seeing God! (Matthew 5:8). <Michael Cawthon>