As a child I had someone to pick up after me off and on. I must admit it was really nice while it lasted. When I turned 15 it all stopped and I just didn’t care until I had children of my own and HAD to do it, for safety reasons.
My mother used to say, “cleanliness is next to Godliness” to make me feel guilty about my room being a disaster area.
Once I became a Christian and had read through the Bible for the first time I was surprised that the phrase wasn’t even in there.
So of course, I had to go to mom and gloat that she was wrong. It felt good to toss it in her face at the time. It was one of the few things she said that I could actually refute. The other one was, “Do as I say, not as I do“.
Needless to say the latter one didn’t stick at all.
But the first one, I was a real jerk about it when I went to her. Then, as the years went on God showed me what it actually meant. It wasn’t about cleaning my room, although that was certainly a good habit, it was about a relationship with Him.
Cleanliness comes from the heart, soul and mind. In Matthew 15:19 Jesus says that from out of the heart come evil thoughts. It doesn’t seem too much of a stretch to make the connection between the heart and our actions. I’ve found that if I don’t ask Him every day to clean me that I end up having more evil thoughts than I’d otherwise have.
Like the ones that have tempted me to get back at my neighbor for being a jerk. I actually considered blocking one of their cars because they parked in my space. I could imagine how ticked off they’d be and blast if it didn’t make me giggle. Of course, immediately after that thought came the one from the Holy Spirit that convicted me about devising wicked schemes.
In all honesty, I practically groaned out loud because the thought wasn’t funny anymore. Then I had to give up the idea of tattling on them for breaking rules in the lease. Finally, I had to stop plotting anything and that was when I was able to see I’d had a bad attitude because they didn’t treat me the way I expected.
In my naivety, I had thought that if you were nice to everyone, they’d be nice back. But I found that sometimes you just don’t click with people. It’s not your fault, necessarily, but that’s life.
I couldn’t believe it had taken me so many years to figure out that it wasn’t me sometimes. Although, most times it was me; if I’m going to be honest here I have to confess I’m not the greatest person to be around. It’s okay, I know everyone here thought I was a neat person. 🙂
I have to tell you though, I had no idea just how wicked I was. In my stubbornness and rebellion I watched other people who just weren’t behaving like Christians. I must have given tons of people a concussion from the plank in my eye.
While it’s an amusing mental picture, it isn’t at all an amusing way to be. So, I had to humble myself, (as much as my prideful heart can manage), and apologize and try to make amends. Now, there is a verse that talks about using money to buy friends. (Luke 16:9) I can definitely say that when you give people things they tend to think better of you. That’s why there are verses that talk about giving gifts, mostly in Proverbs.
But there is also Deuteronomy 16:19 which speaks of bribes. I prefer the Complete Jewish Bible’s translation the best – “You are not to distort justice or show favoritism, and you are not to accept a bribe, for a gift blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of even the upright”.
So, now my neighbors and I get on a little better. I feel a little better about my thoughts and behavior toward them. I can’t say we’ll ever be “friends”, but at least we’re no longer enemies.
I now leave you with something to consider:
Have some of your friendships started with getting a gift?
I’ve been known to give someone more consideration as a nice person because of one, especially if it’s unexpected. Blast, now I’m going to have to examine my heart to see how guilty I am of esteeming some more than others because they’ve given me things. *groan*