Following an afternoon of shopping and errands, my wife asked me to transfer some clothes from the washer to the dryer while she cared for our infant. Upon opening the dryer, I saw that the current load needed to be moved before I could empty the washer. Behind me sat a hamper with a single shirt in it. Not wanting to mix dirty and clean clothes, I asked my wife if the shirt in the hamper was clean or dirty. She smiled and said “it’s clean enough”. This statement took me back through various times in my life in a flash.
As a kid, anything less than ‘wet and muddy’ was clean enough. As a teenager, if I used the towel to dry my hair or wore a sock for five minutes, it was no longer clean and needed to be washed. As a young man on my own, if the article had been washed “this week”, it was still clean enough. As a dad to my first child, if my son fell down, it was off to the wash. As a dad to my third child, as long as it doesn’t smell like spit-up, we’re still good to go.
After this multi-decade memory was completed, I had a reality check. I found it interesting that throughout my life, my standards had radically shifted. It wasn’t in one direction either. I flip-flopped on what my standards were depending upon my place in life.
Back in the laundry room, the thought occurred to me, What is “clean enough” in the eyes of God? His standards aren’t ours. He doesn’t give us a sniff check and say “ya, that’s still OK!” He expects perfect cleanliness. Anything less than that is definitely not acceptable. Matthew 5:48 says, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Obviously, it is impossible to be perfect. We all fall short and we all get mud on ourselves. Trying to clean ourselves on our own is like using water without soap.
The image that came to mind after that thought was of a detergent bottle with the big bold name of Jesus on it. I chuckled as all the stain fighting subtexts and Oxi power flashed before my eyes. If I were walking down the store aisle while reading the different claims of each product, the one that said “New and improved formulation removes Sin!” would definitely catch my eye. As a father and husband, I think I would grab that one…if it can remove sin, it’s gotta work on everything else.
Jeremiah 2:22 says, “Although you wash yourself and use an abundance of soap, the stain of your guilt is still before me,” declares the Sovereign Lord.
The Good News is that Jesus gave His own life to make us clean. He makes us white as snow.
Galatians 2:20 says, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
It feels good to share my thoughts. I hope my simple story helps you think about a lot of things, including the different standards you’ve had throughout your life. Back to the laundry…the hamper is still full of “clean enough” clothes waiting to be folded.