One of my favorite pastors used to say, “Don’t sweat the small stuff, and it’s all small stuff.” He was a man of honor and integrity and great wisdom. His life was cut short from leukemia. In his last message to his beloved congregation, he said, “Don’t air your dirty laundry.”
Recently, my memories traveled back to this time. The Lord gave me a visual analogy of what Pastor Gary was saying.
Growing up, we would hang our laundry outside on clothes lines, for two reasons: To save on the electricity expense of using a clothes dryer. But moreover, there’s just something special the sun and fresh breeze does to make your clothes smell fresh and feel nice.
Naturally, when you hang clothes out on a clothes line, they are clean and freshly washed. The breeze and the sunshine can flow through them and the dampness will dry leaving the clothes feeling fresh and soft against your skin.
You wouldn’t likely hang your dirty laundry out on the line because the heat from the sun would only serve to set the dirt deeper into the fabric.
The same is true when we “air out” or spread out in the open or public our “dirty laundry,” all the faults, the blame games, the mistakes and mishaps and he said, she said, the air of discontentment, dishonor and gross injustices, without first making this a matter of prayer. In doing so, the heat of people’s emotions and ill-spoken words will only serve to make things worse—more murky and muddy, confused and dirty.
The Word of God tells us in Matthew 18:15 if we have a disagreement with our brother, we are to go to them and talk it through and work it out. If you are unable to accomplish this, you are to take a witness—someone who can help you see a different perspective to work through the issue. If you are unable to work it out, you are to just walk away from it and leave it to the Lord to work it out.
When we leave it to the Lord to work it out, he will clean up that “dirty laundry” in such a way all those involved will see how each one has made mistakes, and in the process God will show us how merciful and gracious He is in that he even bothers with us in our arguments, discord and strife.
Wow! How much easier living in this world would be if we would take off those filthy rags, let God cleanse us and transform us through the washing of his word, then hang them on the clothes line of truth so the light of God’s love and grace can shine through us, rather than continuing to wear the same old dirty clothes over and over. Whew!
Don’t air your dirty laundry.
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