Generally when we speak of “spring cleaning” we are referring to that time of year when we decide to give our houses a thorough cleaning from top to bottom. It is during that time of deep cleaning that we like to open up all the doors and windows to allow some cool fresh air to flow through the house. We also like to open all the curtains and blinds to let the brilliant sun rays to beam through the window panes.It also becomes the perfect opportunity for us to clean all of our windows, and to take down the curtains, clean them, and allow them to air out. While in the midst of our cleaning frenzy, we generally also do a lot of other dusting and cleaning that has been put off for some time.
Spring cleaning can be a lot of fun. I can think of nothing that I rather do. I say that of course with a bit of tongue in cheek as the task can mean a large amount of work that needs to be done which can become a bit daunting and overwhelming. On the other hand, spring cleaning also affords an opportunity to conduct a treasure hunt as you sort through all the “stuff” that has accumulated over time.
For example, during my last spring cleaning session I devoted a few hours each day looking through some of the “stuff” that I had collected over the years and put quite a bit of it in the circular file. At the same time, however, I was able to uncover some treasures that had long since been hidden. During my hunt for buried treasures I was able to find such things as my Baptismal and Confirmation Ordinance certificates from March 1998 which I thought had been lost in transit from Keflavik, Iceland to the United States. I also found many wonderful, timeless, and precious memories in such things as photographs of days gone by, various cards given to me by family, friends, and loved ones on different occasions, and handwritten letters from family members that were sent to me while I was away from home serving in the military in various parts of the world. Some of the most valuable treasures that I discovered were handwritten letters from both my late father and mother, and from my beloved sister, Sharon, who has now been hospitalized for over four years. So I suppose spring cleaning can have its upside, as well as its downside.
Spring Cleaning vs. Spiritual Cleansing
Although well worth the effort put into it, spring cleaning generally only last for a season. Spiritual cleansing, however, can have eternal influences.
During times of spiritual cleansing we may need to do a little more than just dust behind our book shelves. We may also need to dust off some of the books on those shelves, in particular our scriptures, and allow the glorious Light of the teachings found there to illumine our lives as its rays shine through the windows of our life.
It is impossible to clean anything in the dark. We need to have some light to see what we are cleaning. Therefore, we need to let the Son shine in by making the Savior an absolute part of our daily lives. Without Him we could do nothing. Without Him we would surely fail. Without Him we would be like a ship drifting without a sail. He wants to be involved in the big, as well as, the small moments of our lives. If we allow Him to rule and reign in all areas of our lives – in every room of our spiritual houses – we will not have a need for a continual spiritual cleansing, but instead we would experience a daily, moment-to-moment refreshing of our spirits. “God is faithful, by whom [we] were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:9).
Spiritual Cleansing is a Process
The first step in our spiritual “spring cleaning” project is to become spiritually healthy by cleansing our hearts. We are encouraged in the Scriptures to draw near to God and allow Him to clean our hearts and bodies. In Psalm 51:10 we read, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” And in Hebrews 10:22 we read, “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.” It may even be a good idea to ask ourselves the same question that Alma in the Book of Mormon asked his brethren of the Church. In Alma 5:14 we read:
And now behold, I ask of you, my brethren of the church, have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?
The Guide to the Scriptures teaches us to be born of God is to have the Spirit of the Lord cause a mighty change in a person’s heart so that he has no more desire to do evil, but rather desires to seek the things of God. Have we truly experienced this mighty change of heart in our lives?
The second step in our spiritual “spring cleaning” project is to clean up the language that we use. Spiritual cleansing requires deep cleaning — it is housekeeping that goes beyond what others see and hear. It is a cleansing from within. As our hearts are cleansed, our language should follow. In Luke 6:45 we learn:
A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.
Cleaning up our language involves more than not using foul language in our conversations, but we should also avoid negative talk and pessimistic thoughts that are contrary to the Word of God and our faith. This also includes the challenge to stop murmuring about every little thing that happens in our lives “for it is God which worketh in [us] both to will and to do of his good pleasure“ (Philippians 2:13). Therefore, we are to “do all things without murmurings and disputings: that [we] may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom [we] shine as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:14,15). The Book of Mormon teaches us that those who murmur do not know “the dealings of that God who [has] created them” (1 Nephi 2:12).
Next, we need to clean out our spiritual closets by repenting of any hidden sins in our lives. Hidden sins will destroy our life, our peace, and even our health. When our spiritual closets are clean, the heavy burden that is felt from hidden sins will be lifted. In Psalms 32:3-5 the Psalmist tells us of the dangers of keeping our sins hidden in our spiritual closets and the burden that is lifted once we repent of those sins. He exhorts:
When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long. For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. Selah. I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah.
We need to clean out the clutter and get rid of old baggage by learning to forgive those who have trespassed against us and not harbor bitterness towards them in our hearts. Not forgiving others and being bitter towards them for extended periods of time is like having old baggage in our attic that we just can’t seem to part with. The baggage no longer serves us any useful purpose, but because we have held on to it for so long, it has become a keepsake when indeed it should be thrown away with the rest of the garbage. In Ephesians 4:31-32 the Apostle Paul tells us to:
Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.
And in Hebrews 12:1-2 we read:
Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
A Time of Refreshing and Renewing
After we have finished all of our spiritual “spring cleaning” we need to take out the garbage by renewing our minds. We are told in Philippians 2:5 to, “let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus”.
One of the biggest struggles in many of our lives is removing the garbage from our minds. A term that is often used in the world of computer technology that relates directly to our minds is GIGO – garbage in equals garbage out. We must learn to feed our minds and spirits with the Word of God instead of the garbage of the world. In Romans 12:2 we are taught to “be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” And in 2 Corinthians 10:5 the Apostle Paul warns us to cast “down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and [bring] into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ”.
Have you done any spring cleaning lately? As our spiritual houses become clean, may our hearts sing in tune with that of the Psalmist, “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him” (Psalms 28:7). “The Lord hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad” (Psalms 126:3).