“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life” (Psalm 139:23-24, NLT).
A few years ago we were given a hot tub and it has truly been a blessing after many a challenging day in ministry. For the most part, maintaining water clarity and balance has been pretty easy. I recently switched from a non-chlorine, non-bromine based system to a bromine based chemical system because the water clarity is better. I learned a valuable lesson in the world of hot tub maintenance when a chalky film began to settle on the tub after a minor battle trying to regain the pH balance in the water. The film didn’t seem like a big deal at the time so I figured I would just come back a few days later and eventually wipe the film off without having to get too consumed with the issue (like having to drain the water and start all over again).
When I finally got around to addressing what I thought was a chalky, pasty residue, I discovered that normal wiping, scrubbing, and extra pressure would not remove the film. In fact nothing would remove what had become like a layer of stone deposited on seventy-five percent of the surface of the tub. As the tub drained revealing the enormity of the problem, I immediately regretted letting the thing go as long as I did. Nothing I tried would remove the film. Those magic erasers, I discovered, are not all that magic when it comes to removing scaly calcium mineral deposits on the sides of a hot tub. I learned by going online that white vinegar heated and then sprayed on the surface will cause the deposits to bubble up. After about ten minutes on the surface, that vinegar did in moments what could not be done previously. All I had to do was wipe and then rinse the area thoroughly. My tub surface was once again shiny and good as new.
My hot tub challenge reminds me of two very powerful spiritual principles when it comes to putting off dealing with things in our lives the Lord wants to remove: First, it never pays to delay judging that area of sin or compromise in our lives. It may not seem like a big deal today, but if we keep putting off our repentance we might just discover that thing is harder to get rid of than we thought. It is always better to embrace the mercies of God daily (Lamentations 3:21-23) than try to gain victory over something that has become entrenched and habitual in our lives. Many things appear to be “no big deal” until it becomes obvious that it would have been much better to remove it immediately rather than give it time to harden our hearts. Second, when it comes to the stubborn sins and strongholds in our lives, we need to break out the most powerful sin solvent in the universe – the blood of Jesus. The cosmetic and quick fixes the world offers (like the magic erasers) or the “putting our elbow into it” (the futile efforts to deal with things in our own strength) cannot bring the deliverance and peace we are looking for. Only the blood of Jesus can obliterate the crusty and hard residue of sin that attaches to our hearts over time. Only the blood of Jesus can burn off the sin and leave us clean, shiny, and ready to once again be filled with refreshing water and prepared for use.
I want to encourage you to pray the Psalm 139 prayer – Lord search me. You will never regret becoming a “quick to repent” believer (one who changes the mind with a corresponding change of behavior – that is to stop the offending behavior) in this day where rationalizing attitudes, thoughts, and behaviors (even in the body of Christ) has become an epidemic. Guard your heart and life daily and when you compromise or sin against God don’t put off making it right. You will find that it is better and easier to deal with your failures immediately rather than stacking the sin until your heart becomes a hard shell of indifference and apathy.