One of my favorite Bible prayers is one of Paul’s recorded for us in Philippians 1:9-11. There Paul says that he prays for the Philippians’ …’love to abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, that they may discern what is best and be pure and blameless until the Day of Christ Jesus…’. (NIV) Paul wanted, among other things, for the Philippians’ love to abound in order that they may discern what is best and be pure.
This virtue was one that was not only essential for genuine spiritual life, but one that could be tangibly verified. Some Bible versions translate the word for pure as ‘sincere’, ‘unalloyed’ or ‘genuine’. If we translated it literally, we would say it was ‘judged by the sun’. Now what does that mean?
For some time now, I have been looking to find a good used washtub. I used one as a kid, before indoor plumbing came to our region of Southern Illinois. (Yes, I am that old.) (And no, we didn’t walk to school without shoes, in the snow, uphill both ways…) And until 1963, Saturday evening bath time found me making the most of soapy water in an old wash tub that the rest of the week was used mostly for washing clothes. Call it nostalgia, if you will, but I’d just like one. A few years ago I filled one with ice and put canned soda in it to keep the pop cold for our use at a harvest parade in our village. But, it has long since become useless because of holes in the bottom.
I haven’t been picky in my search. But, I have wanted the tub to have two good handles, little or no rust, no sharp edges anywhere and most of all NO HOLES. A wash tub isn’t much use for anything but decoration if it has holes in it.
Recently, on a birthday trip to Door County, Wisconsin, my wife and I shopped–more like poked around–in a second hand store that had more than it’s share of antique type utensils and old shed stuff in a lower level. As it happened, the owners had a couple wash tubs to choose from. As I looked them over, I found myself instinctively walking over to an open garage, loading bay door. Once there, I put the tubs, first one then the other, over my head and turned toward the sun to see if there were any holes in the bottoms or seams. The sunlight would soon reveal any holes, even pin tip sized ones. Unfortunately, though both tubs looked very serviceable, neither passed the sunlight test. So the search continues.
Spiritually speaking, we daily go through this same process. But this time, our lives take the place of the tubs and Jesus, the Son, takes the place of the sunlight. We measure the ‘purity’ of our spiritual lives by lifting them up and placing them in the light of Jesus, through prayer, Bible study, fellowship and service to Him. Those areas that reveal weakness become our areas of concern and sanctification. We seek the Lord’s grace to grow in strength beyond the weaknesses that His light reveals.
This is what Paul was praying for with the Philippians. He wanted them to grow in genuine love so that they could discern any areas of spiritual impurity that would be holding them back in their walk with the Lord. As they found and addressed those areas, they would then become ‘pure’ and ‘blameless’ until the day of Christ Jesus.
As God mentions through Peter in I Peter 1:22: ‘…now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for the brethren, love one another deeply from a ‘pure’ heart…’.
May we seek the Lord, today, to become more like Him–full of purity. And may we resolve to not shrink from the task of seeking the light in order to reveal those ‘holes’ in our spiritual lives that hold us back from the spiritual maturity that we all want.