Is physically removing leaven from my home an “old testament” unnecessary act? Or is it valuable to spiritual growth?
As I go through cleaning out all the little crumbs from every nook and cranny of my home I have plenty of time to think about the various spiritual analogies that can teach me valuable lessons. Maybe after reading the list below you will see it truly is a valuable instruction when we are told to have no leaven found in our houses during the Days of Unleavened Bread. (Exodus 13:7).
What is leaven? Leaven represents sin and is referred to as such numerous times in the Bible (Matt 16:6, 11-12; Luke 12:1; 1 Cor 5:6; Gal 5:9). Leaven is, in practical terms, a raising agent – typically yeast, but it is also baking soda & baking powder, and of course sourdough. These agents are used to make bread and baking rise – puff it up. So, with that in mind here I go to try and explain some thoughts I have had these last few days while cleaning out my home.
1) It is easy to find the obvious leaven and throw it out – those half used jars of yeast and baking soda. Or so it would seem. Every day I look at the glass jar full of breadcrumbs in my pantry – it sits right next to the glass jar of couscous. I have been so concentrated on getting rid of the crumbs hidden behind the toaster that I almost didn’t register that I had to throw out that whole (very large) jar of breadcrumbs. Lesson…. Are there obvious sins in my life that I am just so used to that occur daily without any conscious acknowledgement that I fail to see them and repent of them? Do I get distracted with the little details and ignore the obvious? Matt 7:3 comes to mind!
2) While cleaning out the old dried crumbs from my kitchen cupboards I have been using water to wipe them all away. This got me thinking about God’s Holy Spirit and how much we need it to get rid of sin. God’s Spirit in my life is essential to be able to be washed clean of my sins. Do I ask for daily forgiveness and work actively at using the Spirit God has given me to become more pure? Psalm 51:2 “Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.”
3) I am amazed at just where the crumbs of dry bread end up! Bottom of my handbag, between the couch seats, under the rug, in the umbrella stand! This just shows me that sin is all around me and it hides deep in my thoughts. There are secret sins that I need to confess to my Father in Heaven and repent of – nothing is hidden from God. I could sin with no one knowing and think that I can get away with it, but no, God knows all, if He knows how many hairs are on my head then He sure knows every little “crumb” in my mind and I need His help in finding them so I can be clean. Psalm 19:12-13 “Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults. Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me. Then I shall be blameless, and I shall be innocent of great transgression.”
4) When my house is totally free of leaven it is very clean! It is probably the only time in the year where my house is pretty much spotless. This gives me great hope that removing sin from my life makes me very clean, spiritually. This is the state I should be striving to be in, daily! Christ’s bride is clothed in white, she has made herself ready. By removing sin from my life through identifying my sins and repenting of them (REAL repentance = active change), I hope to be seen as pure in the eyes of God, and worthy to be part of the bride of Christ. Rev 19:7-8 “Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready. And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.”
5) It is also sobering to know that no matter how hard I try, there will be some crumbs that will be missed. Here I rely of God’s great mercy and grace (unmerited pardon). I know that just being a physical human I am sin and cannot reach perfection on my own merit. God is a patient and loving Father and He knows the heart. Rom 3:23-25 “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed…”
6) It is mentally rewarding to start the springtime with a super clean home. It feels good to have a “clean slate” and resolve to keep it that way! (In reality my house gets messy pretty quickly again and my dream of keeping on top of things gets dashed!). Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread start off the annual cycle of God’s Holy Days and it is symbolic to me to start these days spiritually clean. My motivation and desire to keep the house in its beautifully clean state also spills over to my spiritual state – I would love to stay sinless throughout the year!! But it takes a huge effort and I tend to fail at it. Sadly.
7) In connection to point number 6 I know that I will repeat this whole cleaning procedure again next year as the Holy Day cycle starts once again. I know that going through the physical act of cleaning out the leaven from my home reminds me year after year of my responsibility to grow spiritually, to reach maturity and purity of mind. And I am very thankful that I have that reminder, judging at how quickly my house turns into a crumb infested mess – my sins creep back into my life and I need to go through a thorough cleansing process of self examination (1 Cor 11:28) and repentance (2 Cor 7:10). Of course repentance isn’t just a “once a year thing”… but at this time of the year we are specifically commanded to put sin out of our lives. This is the start of an ongoing journey…