Clean Clothes On A Sweaty Body

A year ago we helped our daughter move into a new apartment. It was hotter and more humid than usual for the San Diego coast, but we couldn’t wait for better weather since her last year of university was about to start. Besides, this apartment was an answer to prayer.

A much newer place than our daughter's furniture was in (Wikipedia)

A much nicer place than our daughter’s furniture was in

First thing we did was pick up the moving van from the rental place, then straight to the storage unit where her things had been kept while she was in South Africa. Her unit was inside a two story warehouse, upstairs and down a long hallway lined with plywood walls and padlocked doors, and no ventilation. Our first trip to the unit (and there would be several as we loaded up the moving van and our mini van with her and her roommate’s beds, desks, boxes, crates, computers, kitchen supplies and more) wasn’t so bad. It was early in the day and the second story hallways were only moderately-stuffy-but-not-over-warm. By the time we unloaded at her apartment, the part about not being overly warm was behind us. The day was fixing to be a scorcher. I was fixing to sweat up a storm. We made two more trips to the storage unit, and on each trip the second floor of that warehouse got hotter and stuffier and stuffier and hotter. Me, I got sweatier and sweatier. Add in picking up a queen size sofa bed and a solid oak dining set she found on Craig’s list, and the day’s work got hotter while I got sweatier. Moving finally ended well into the evening. We headed for a restaurant my daughter liked, but first I saw a nearby Eddie Bauer store and told my wife and daughter I’d just be a minute.

The clearance racks had exactly what I was looking for: a pair of shorts and a T-shirt. The cashier asked me if I wanted a bag and I said I’d rather go into the changing room and put on the clean clothes I’d just bought. He let me into one and I swapped my sweat-soaked shirt and shorts for new ones. Much better. I considered dumping the old clothes into a trash bin, but instead crammed them into the bag the cashier gave me and went to join my wife and daughter. They both commented that I didn’t stink nearly as much now. Clean Clothes Aren’t Enough The Bible often uses clothing when discussing spiritual matters. Jesus told a parable of a wedding feast where one’s acceptance by the host is signified by wearing the right clothing (Matthew 22:1-14), and John’s vision of Heaven includes people in robes washed white through the sacrifice of Jesus. (Revelation 7:13-14.)

But is it all just a matter of wearing the right clothes? Does God really say, “Here, put this on and then you’ll be clean”? I think not. We are not merely clothed cleanly and correctly on the outside while underneath we are still full of stink (like me at the end of that moving day sitting down to eat with my wife and daughter). The clothes, rather, are a symbol of what has first happened to us through and through.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. (2 Corinthians 5:17-19.)

We are new creations, not just dirty sinners with some clean clothes on the outside. When God looks on you, he sees you clean through. Clean through from outside to inside to back out the other side. It is as Jesus said, though, that we need him to make this happen:

“Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” (John 13:8.)

Clean clothes alone are not enough. But being cleaned by Jesus is more than enough. He has made us new and clean from sin, with him forever.


[Please come back Wednesday to find out what happened on the second day of moving our daughter into her apartment.]

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11 Responses to Clean Clothes On A Sweaty Body

  1. Reblogged this on multicolouredsmartypants and commented:
    A very good metaphor. I think legalism is us trying to put the ‘right’ clothes on. The intent is good, laudable, even, but it doesn’t change the inside. It can’t change the inside; this is only done by grace, and it doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time to bear good fruit.

  2. Awesome post! I have nothing to add.

  3. Laura Droege says:

    Ah, the joys of moving! We’ve moved twice in the last two-and-a-half years, and both days were terribly warm (late May and early July), and we had to deal with storage units, too. Soaking wet clothes, sweaty skin, stinky body: been there, done that. We had to eat out for dinner (and lunch the next day) because we didn’t have the correct type of cookware for our new glass top stove. Sigh. I hope I don’t have to go through that again anytime soon.

    Great analogy with the cleansing that Jesus gives us. I can’t wait to find out what happened on the second day of the move and what spiritual application you’ll pull from it!

  4. Jeannie says:

    This is a great analogy, Tim! I have an opposite example: 15 years ago we flew to see my parents in January and got caught in a freezing rainstorm. Because of weather, fuel concerns, and accommodation issues (one city we landed in had NO hotel rooms available b/c of Special Olympics) we did five flights to different cities in 15 hours, ended up back where we’d begun, and were bused to a hotel to stay overnight & then start all over the next day. But our luggage didn’t follow us on our circuitous journey so after we showered we had to put on all the same clothes we’d been wearing through all this time. Grubby socks on clean feet — gross. So … as you say, I’m glad God makes us clean through and through!

  5. Adriana says:

    Great story, Tim. Glad you were able to help your daughter get settled in spite of the terrible heat and discomfort.

    When I was a teenager I mixed spices for my uncle’s Italian restaurant. My station was in a large industrial building which was located at the edge of a quaint upper-class community. In the summer there was no air conditioning and by the end of the day I was a sight — sweaty, weary, disheveled, and smelling of pizza. One evening, on my way home, I stopped at the library in that posh, manicured town. I couldn’t find what I was looking for so I went up to the desk to ask the reference librarian for help. For a moment she ignored me and then, when I didn’t go away, she mumbled some vague suggestions without making eye contact.

    A few weeks later I stopped back by that library to return the books I had checked out there. This time I was on my way home from a church function, so I happened to be clean. I was wearing heels, a tailored dress, and some expensive perfume I had received as a gift. The same librarian treated me in the exact opposite manner. She rolled out the proverbial red carpet with the utmost attentiveness and warmth, engaging me in a conversation about the books I was returning and making suggestions for further study.

    That experience helped me reflect on this truth: “The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

    So thankful my Lord sees me and loves me!

    • Tim says:

      Adriana, that is a wonderful example of not judging books by their covers. You’d have thought a librarian of all people would know better!

  6. Aimee Byrd says:

    Great post, Tim! Praise God that he makes us new.

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