Once there were two homes, and there were the same number of children in each household-I think it was around four or five. But beyond this, the similarities in the households disappeared. One of them was clean and tidy, and the other was just a few steps short of a disaster. Now what was the difference between the two homes? It was not that in the first home, the children never spilled or dropped anything. It was not that the second home was the one that had all the accidents. Rather, in the clean home, when a mess was made, it was dealt with right away. In the messy home, the motto was always “tomorrow.”
Now we can understand something about confession of sin from this. Christians whose lives are not cluttered and messy are not Christians who never sin. They are rather Christians who pick it up right after they spilled it. They do not wait for a mess to fix itself. They do not postpone doing what they know needs to be done. But a Christian whose life is in spiritual shambles is one who drops something, and then drops something else to cover the first thing up. And pretty soon, the living room of his heart overwhelms him with its clutter. He does not know where to start.
But our parable has another twist. While physical cleanliness provides us with a good illustration of this principle, what are we to make of a perfectionist neatnik, one who makes all his roommates miserable through his insistence that all the Campbell soup cans in the cupboard be stacked with all the labels facing the same way? What are we to make of the mother, who fiercely corrects her children’s manners at the dinner table, and does so in a way that shows that she has the worst manners in the family?
The legalist loves to live by rule, and not by understanding. Many times, a dirty room is the sign of a dirty heart. This is a great trouble. But far greater, and far harder to deal with, is the situation when a spotless home is the sign of a filthy heart.