Week 14 Sunday

Clean Inside and Out

Today’s scripture selection: Mark 7-8

Key verses: Mark 7:6-7

“‘These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
    They worship me in vain;
their teachings are merely human rules.’”

It’s an old saying: “Cleanliness is next to Godliness.”

I’m not sure when or where I first heard it – but I’ve known about it for a long time.  And, sometimes when I look at my disorganized desk or cluttered closets – those words come back to haunt me.

But they are more than just something a Grandma tells her family to get them to clean up their act.  They are spiritual counsel.

When confronting a group who prided themselves on keeping things “nice and tidy” but neglected matters of spiritual cleanliness – Jesus quoted words from scripture.  And he reminded them that it’s what’s on the inside that matters most.

Did he have anything against religious piety or ritual?  No.  Did he advocate living life as a slob?  Not that I know of.

He simply wanted them to remember that housecleaning begins with a mental and spiritual change, long before it is exhibited outwardly.

We too need a reminder now and then.

While doing everything right on the outside is important – having our house in order internally is essential.

And, ultimately, it’s what comes out of heart that makes us clean or “dirty” as the case may be.

Is your typical language uplifting – or negative – tearing others down?  Is your typical attitude one of joyful appreciation of life – or a daily reciting of what’s wrong with the world (or others)?

Cleanliness is next to Godliness.  And it doesn’t have much to do with whether the dishes are done or not.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, cleanse me from within, that on the outside, I may be an instrument of your grace.  AMEN.

By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. “Elpis” is the Greek word for “expectant hope.” He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors, and a member of Spiritual Directors International. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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