Ah, spring cleaning. That age-old tradition that is part hardwired biology and part fed up rage after months of junking up your house. Growing up, we could all sense when spring cleaning had hit my mother. She became a woman possessed.
Closets began emptying, cabinets began raining down their contents into ever-growing mountains of Tupperware on the kitchen table. We kids would run for the hills, because if your presence was ever detected, you would be recruited to fight in this war on dirt.
I did not like this time as a child. Everything turned upside down for a day or two. Along with the spring cleaning also came the torrent of verbal assault against the dirt and the clutter, as my mother explained to all of us exactly why our house had gotten into such a terrible mess. It was apparently mine and my brother’s fault, mostly.
As I grew older, though, this spring cleaning bug eventually bit me as well. I developed a new sense of respect and sympathy for my mother as I began to wage my own war on dirt and clutter in my own house with my own children.
Last week, the spring cleaning bug bit me. If some of my friend’s Facebook pages are any indication, then the bug bit me a little later than everyone else this year, but at least it bit me. I think he missed me last spring. You know the bug has bitten you because you wake up that morning feeling a little on the manic side. Suddenly, nothing in your entire house looks right. Nothing is clean. Nothing is organized, and you think, “How in the world have I been living in this pig sty?”
As is my custom, I immediately tore into the worst spot of the entire house. The place we like to call “The Hidey Hole.” Now, when we moved into this house, I was thrilled that in the back of the house, attached to my daughter’s room, was an extra little room. An entire spare room with a closet! I had just moved out of a 900-square-foot house with little closet space.
This was a luxury to me. However, this entire extra room has become a horrible little burr in my brain. Its existence sort of hangs over my mind all day, haunting me. Here is the thing about having an extra room that does not have any official use in my home: it became my “Hidey Hole.” In case you didn’t know, a “Hidey Hole” is a gross little catch-all spot where things just get stuffed. It had gotten so bad that you could no longer see the floor. The pile of stuff just started at the doorway and sloped upwards.
As I dug through the yuck, I began thinking about “Hidey Holes” in our spiritual lives. Dark little rooms where we stuff things hoping no one opens that door. Like Achan in Joshua 7, who dug a hole in his tent to stuff in his stolen goods, how often do we slip away to our hidey holes to hide away our sins?
20 And Achan answered Joshua, and said, Indeed I have sinned against the LORD God of Israel, and thus and thus have I done:
21 When I saw among the spoils a goodly Babylonish garment, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels weight, then I coveted them, and took them; and, behold, they are hid in the earth in the midst of my tent, and the silver under it.Joshua 7:20-21
Achan’s Big Mistake
In Joshua 6, the Israelites experienced one of their greatest military victories when they conquered the city of Jericho. However, by chapter 7, the mood had changed greatly and all because of sin.
But the children of Israel committed a trespass in the accursed thing: for Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took of the accursed thing: and the anger of the Lord was kindled against the children of Israel.Joshua 7:1
The Lord had specifically told the children of Israel not to touch anything, but Achan did not obey. Not only did he touch the forbidden items, but he took them and hid them. Just like we often hide sins in our lives, Achan literally dug a hole to hide the stolen items in his tent.
Usually, when we think of sneakiness or hiding things, our minds instantly go to big sins like adultery, fornication or stealing. Hidey holes can fill up just as easily with other sins too, though. Sins such as bitterness, anger, discontentment, gossip, jealousy.
In fact, they fill up much faster with these things because these are the sneaky sins the devil most often tempts established Christians towards. These are the sins of moral people. Let’s look a little closer at some of these sneaky sins that can fill up our hidey holes.
Bitterness and Anger
Bitterness is one of the most destructive of the sneaky sins because it can go undetected for so long. Bitterness usually creeps in slowly and then grows and grows. What does the Bible have to say about bitterness?
And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.Mark 11:25
This verse tells us that if you hold on to problems and grievances that you have against others, then God cannot even hear your prayers. Letting go is always easier said than done, but hanging on to things can have big spiritual consequences for us.
Some of the things that people get bitter over can be trivial. However, sometimes things happen to us in life that really seem to justify our bitterness. People can harm others in unspeakable ways. Man’s capacity to hurt can seem huge, but just as huge is man’s capacity to forgive.
Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl said, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
It is very easy to get sucked into the thinking that things are just happening to you. That you have no control over these circumstances. Feeling helpless and stuck often leads to bitterness. Reclaiming your power to choose your own attitude, as Frankl points out, is the only way you can regain your power. When you regain your power, then you can begin to move away from bitterness and back into fellowship with the Lord. Forgiveness, not bitterness, is the only way to do this.
Discontentment is another very sneaky sin that can unravel your spiritual life. Hebrews 13:5 says, “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”
Why does God make such a big deal over being content? It is because He has already given us everything. Wrapped up in our salvation is everything we need to be content, and then, in addition to that, He gives bonus blessings every day. Our discontentment is nothing more than telling God, “You are failing. You have not given me what is right. You have done me wrong somehow.”
Now many of us would never look up to Heaven and say this out loud, but we do say it with our spirit of discontentment. You can begin to train your mind and spirit away from this habit by committing to be grateful no matter what. This means that in every situation, no matter how dark it may seem, you will find something to be thankful for.
Practicing gratitude every day by keeping a gratitude journal is also a great way to fix your perspective if you are inclined to be negative and unthankful.
Gossip is often preached against because of the way it can make small problems much larger than necessary. In addition to this, though, gossip is also damaging to us spiritually because it creates a type of isolation. When you gossip about someone you are automatically putting them in one category and yourself in another category. You are building up walls that will stop the potential for communion between the believers.
Most importantly, you are passing a judgment which says, “I am better than that. I am better than you.” Your mouth is only confirming what is already in your heart
“…for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.””…for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.”Matthew 12:34
The way we talk is one of the most obvious indicators of our spiritual state.
If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain.James 1:26
James says that our religion is just vain, or fake if we cannot even control our mouths. Gossip will slowly, steadily cut you off from others whom you could be either fellowshipping with or ministering to.
Let’s look at a few of the parallels between what Achan was hiding, and what we often hide in our hidey holes.
It’s Not So Bad
Achan justified the items because he felt that they were good for him. Humans are very creative at coming up with ways to justify sin. No matter how wicked, we can always put a positive twist on it in the beginning.
Joshua 7:21 says:
“When I saw among the spoils a goodly Babylonish garment, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels weight, then I coveted them, and took them.”Joshua 7:21
The things were attractive and easily justified. Your sneaky sins can also no doubt be easily justified. People do you wrong. You don’t get everything you want. People make bad choices. These are all facts that could make you think it is justified to be angry, bitter, discontent or to gossip. The truth is sin is never justified, no matter how we twist it.
It’s Not Just About You
Achan’s sin affected all the people of God around him.
“But the children of Israel committed a trespass in the accursed thing: for Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took of the accursed thing: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against the children of Israel.”Joshua 7:1
God’s anger was kindled at all the children of Israel because of what one man did! Do not think the sins in your hidey hole are just your business. You are part of the family of God and hopefully a member of a church and each Christian affects his church. Your sins are not your own. They will reach out and affect others.
It Bothered His Pastor
Achan’s sin was a hindrance to his pastor.
“And Joshua rent his clothes, and fell to the earth upon his face before the ark of the LORD until the eventide, he and the elders of Israel, and put dust upon their heads.”Joshua 7:6
Even before Joshua knew what had happened, he knew something was wrong. True men of God know when things are amiss in their congregation. Our sin can be an unnecessary burden on our already burdened spiritual leaders.
There’s No Such Thing As a Secret
I have always told my children there is no such thing as a secret. Someone else almost always knows about it, and even if no other human knows, God knows. When we sin in secret, God has a way of bringing it to light in very public ways.
Achan’s secret sin came out in a very public way.
“And Achan answered Joshua, and said, Indeed I have sinned against the LORD God of Israel, and thus and thus have I done.”Joshua 7:20
Take a moment to truly imagine the possible ending consequences of your hidden sins. What type of embarrassment or pain will it cause for you and for others?
Keep It Clean
If Achan had cleaned out his own hidey hole and repented, the leaders of Israel wouldn’t have had to do it for him.
“So Joshua sent messengers, and they ran unto the tent; and, behold, it was hid in his tent, and the silver under it. And they took them out of the midst of the tent, and brought them unto Joshua, and unto all the children of Israel, and laid them out before the LORD.”Joshua 7:22-23
There are few things as sweet as timely repentance; knowing in your heart that you’ve made things right BEFORE the Lord had to begin chastising you.
You Pay More Than You Intended
Sometimes sin will cost us far more than we want to pay. Even small, sneaky sins, like the ones mentioned above, can have huge consequences over time. Never think that a little sin will just have a little consequence.
Achan and his family died because of his sins.
“And Joshua, and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah, and the silver, and the garment, and the wedge of gold, and his sons, and his daughters, and his oxen, and his asses, and his sheep, and his tent, and all that he had: and they brought them unto the valley of Achor. And Joshua said, Why hast thou troubled us? the LORD shall trouble thee this day. And all Israel stoned him with stones, and burned them with fire, after they had stoned them with stones.”Joshua 7:24-25
If sin remains in your hidey hole long enough, it can affect the spirituality of your family, especially your children. How sad if our children are spiritually destroyed because of hidden sin that we refuse to confess and repent of.
It is a sweet feeling to get a room like my hidey hole all cleaned out and organized. Once my hidey hole was all tidied up, and I got rid of many garbage bags full of junk, I just sat back with a cup of coffee and relaxed, knowing it would not bother my mind any longer.
Isn’t that the feeling, times a hundred, when we repent and let the Lord tidy up our hidey holes, throw open the windows and let the spring breezes blow through our spirit? Open up those windows and see if you need to do some spring cleaning of the soul.