I confess that I hate doing dishes. When I bought my house, I did not think too much about the fact that it did not have a dishwasher. But I did not realize the amount of time I would be standing by the sink washing plates and cups and silverware again and again.
Full disclosure, as some friends who have been at my house can attest, I do not always keep up with it and the dishes stack up from time to time in a kind of Dr. Suessian tippy tower until I bite the bullet and get to washing.
This endless cycle of dishwashing brought to mind what the Bible has to say about dishwashing and the meaning behind it. Believe or not, the Bible has a lot to say about it.
The Pharisees in Jesus’ day were very good at doing dishes, apparently:
There are many other traditions that they observe, such as the washing of cups and pots and copper vessels and dining couches. Mark 7:4
But interestingly, Jesus used the practice as an object lesson to teach us about our spiritual disciplines:
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean. Matthew 23:25-26
I know from my experience that I so often think I have my oatmeal bowls clean, but inside I will still find flecks of crusted-over oats that I failed to scrape out.
So it is in our spiritual lives. We can put on a good front of a clean-cut Christian life, but inside some caked-on sins are still making us unclean inside that we fail to or sometimes even don’t want to or are too lazy to wipe out. If we let the unclean parts of our lives go, they can stack up like my tippy tower of plates and take over our existence from the inside.
So that is why I am starting to clean my dishes right after I use them, and I am starting from the inside and then moving to the outside. In the process, doing dishes has become less daunting.
In the same way, as dirty and unclean thoughts creep into my mind, I make a point now through the power of Christ within me to rid myself of those “crusty” thoughts as quickly as I can and then engage my mind in thoughts that are more pleasing to God and drawing me closer to Christ. Those “clean” thoughts then exhibit themselves on the outside with genuine acts of Christlike kindness toward others and sincere faith practices that come from within.
Now every time I do dishes, I contemplate how Christ cleanses me both inside and out so that I can live for him more and more. What a blessing.
Suddenly doing dishes doesn’t seem like quite as much of a burden (mostly).