Spiritual Spring Cleaning: Nehemiah’s Approach to Renewal
The House of God is sacred, a place of worship and communion with the Divine. In Nehemiah 13:4-8, we glimpse a poignant lesson about the importance of maintaining the purity and sanctity of God’s dwelling. This passage recounts how Nehemiah returned to Jerusalem only to discover a disconcerting scene within the House of God. Eliashib, a priest, had allocated a sizable room to his relative Tobiah, who moved in his belongings and furniture. However, God’s displeasure was noticeable, for this space was meant to be consecrated to the worship of God – a space for offerings and reverence.
Now prior to this, Eliashib the priest, who was appointed over the chambers of the house of our God, being related to Tobiah…It was very displeasing to me, so I threw all of Tobiah’s household goods out of the room. — Nehemiah 13:5, 8
Nehemiah’s reaction is nothing short of powerful – a fervent reminder that there are things which simply do not belong within God’s dwelling. Tobiah’s eviction serves as a vivid metaphor for our own spiritual journey – a call to cleanse our minds, bodies, and souls from the unwanted tenants that obscure the presence of the Divine. Let’s explore the significance of this narrative, digging into its implications for our lives, and offer practical ways to cleanse our spiritual houses.
Nehemiah’s Lesson: The Uninvited Tenant
Nehemiah’s return to Jerusalem was met with an unsettling revelation: the House of God, intended for sacred purposes, had been compromised. Eliashib’s decision to grant Tobiah a room within these hallowed walls contradicted God’s design for this space. It was designated for offerings – grain, incense, vessels, wine, and oil – elements of devotion and worship.
In our lives, similar contradictions can arise. We often allocate mental and emotional spaces to matters that do not align with God’s purpose for us. This can manifest as negative thoughts, harmful habits, and distracting influences. Just as Nehemiah took action to cleanse the Temple, we are called to evict these unwanted occupants from our minds and hearts.
Temples of the Holy Spirit: Our Spiritual Houses
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? — 1 Corinthians 6:19
1 Corinthians 6:19 reminds us that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit. The Divine has chosen to reside within us, making it imperative for us to maintain the sanctity of these vessels. Just as Nehemiah purged the uninvited tenant, we must cleanse our spiritual houses.
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. — Romans 12:2
Romans 12:2 further emphasizes the importance of renewing our minds. This renewal involves aligning our thoughts and actions with God’s will. Just as Tobiah’s belongings did not belong in the House of God, thoughts and habits that contradict God’s truth have no place in our lives.
The Nehemiah Approach: Cleansing Our Houses
Nehemiah’s righteous anger serves as a model for us. Just as he forcefully removed Tobiah’s possessions, we too must exhibit a holy indignation toward the elements that undermine our spiritual well-being. This may involve confronting our negative habits, dispelling doubts, and realigning our priorities.
Examining Our Spiritual House
During times of prayer and fasting, we have a unique opportunity to introspectively assess the condition of our spiritual and physical houses. Nehemiah’s actions prompt us to ask important questions:
- What has taken residence within us that God is not pleased with?
- Do certain areas need additional security from negative influences?
- Can we confidently say that God governs every aspect of our spiritual and physical spaces?
Purging the Unwanted
Here are a few ways you can evict unwanted tenants in your spiritual house:
- Prayerful Purge: Engage in prayer and fasting to identify and remove unwanted elements from your spiritual and physical house.
When I heard these words, I sat down and wept and mourned for days; and I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven. — Nehemiah 1:4
- Limit Television, Movies & Cable: The health of our eyes affects our spiritual well-being. Consciously choose entertainment that uplifts your spirit and aligns with God’s truth.
“The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! — Matthew 6:22-23
- Suspend Your Netflix: Consciously choose entertainment that uplifts your spirit and aligns with God’s truth. Temporarily suspend sources of distraction. Dedicate this time to meditating on God’s Word and His promises.
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. — Philippians 4:8
- Talk Less: Speak purposefully and avoid careless talk, whether in person or through digital communication. Let your words reflect God’s grace and mercy.
But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. — Matthew 12:36
- Break Ties: Evaluate relationships, partnerships, and associations. Disconnect from those that hinder your spiritual growth.
Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? — 2 Corinthians 6:14
Live the Call to Cleanse our Houses
In the narrative of Nehemiah and Tobiah, we find a call to cleanse our spiritual houses – to remove the clutter of thoughts, habits, and influences that obstruct our connection with the Divine. Just as Nehemiah exhibited righteous anger, we must confront the elements that displease God and diminish our spiritual vitality.
Let Nehemiah’s zeal inspire you to create a dwelling place worthy of the Divine presence. Your spiritual house is yours to maintain – a space where God’s light can shine unhindered.