“ . . . Don’t you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough?”
Manila, the city that I call home, is usually covered in a cloud of pollution. The unpleasant smell of exhaust fumes is a common experience if you walk along a busy street. Jeepneys and buses emit noxious plumes of smoke as they change gears going down the road.
The pollution manifests itself in a more subtle but personal way in all of our homes here. Housecleaning is a constant battle against the ever-present dirty air. Right after mopping, one can walk barefoot on the floor. Give it a day or so, however, and this is no longer advisable—a fine layer of black dust has already begun to replace the one that was just removed. Walk across the floor a few times and your feet will probably be filthy. This onslaught of pollution constantly accumulates, leaving this layer of soot-like dust on everything.
My first apartment here had a white bathroom floor. The tile was lovely and sturdy, but I could not imagine why anyone would choose white flooring in Manila. One day I decided to take a little short-cut with my housecleaning. I wanted to clean the bathroom floor, but didn’t feel like cleaning the whole apartment. I mopped the bathroom and had it sparkling clean within a few minutes.
It doesn’t take much imagination to figure out what happened next. Within minutes I had black footprints in my bathroom; tracked from the living room and other parts of the house. I learned that if I wanted a clean bathroom floor I had two options: leave Manila or mop the entire apartment.
I think there’s a spiritual analogy in my mopping experience. We all live in a “polluted” world—polluted by sin, that is. It constantly works its way into our lives through the media, etc. It is impossible to completely escape this sinful environment—Jesus himself prayed that we would be protected from evil while living in the world (John 17:15).
Sometimes we want to “clean up” certain parts of our lives, but only those sins which we consider “serious,” visible to others or uncomfortable for us. I have found that this approach doesn’t work too well. Those sins that I choose to let remain tend to permeate and affect other parts of my life and ministry, sometimes even pulling me back into those sins that I desperately want to avoid.
Just as a pinch of yeast affects the whole batch of dough, one sin can affect an entire life. It doesn’t stop there. Paul’s analogy of yeast was actually used to warn that one believer’s sin can affect the entire congregation!
Let’s be honest—sometimes we only want sin management, but God wants sin eradication! We serve a Holy God! We must invite the Holy Spirit to “Search me, O God, and know my heart . . .” (Psalms 139:23-24).
If we will fully cooperate with God, He will reveal to us and cleanse us of everything that He finds offensive (1st John 1:9). We will certainly get even more revelation and cleansing than we think we need. The end product will be Holiness and purity of the heart, and a closer relationship with our Father (Matt 5:8).
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