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Get Rid of Hidden Stains

White dress shirts are not one of my favorite choices in attire, although when they are new and clean they look nice. The problem is that their bright appearance is easily tarnished, which means that their useful life span can be quite short. My wife does a good job keeping them in presentable condition as long as possible, but with the passing of time and exposure to various elements they eventually have to be replaced.

On one occasion as Gale and I finished our breakfast in a local eatery, I commented to a couple about how amazing it was that I had finished my breakfast without getting anything on the white dress shirt I was wearing. Another time, as I rushed to have Sunday lunch so I could get to an early afternoon obligation, things did not turn out so well for me. Once again, with a white dress shirt on, I was extra careful to keep my shirt unspoiled. It seems that spotless garments attract impurities that spoil their attractiveness, and somehow I dropped a piece of food which was dipped in catsup; as chance would have it, it bounced around until it landed on my shirt sleeve, depositing a big ugly spot of the red condiment where it struck. Thankfully I was able to hide it with my coat, but the spot was still there and had to be dealt with later.

Even when blemishes are hidden from immediate sight they still exist.

Unseen things can cause a lot of trouble. I was reminded of that when a friend needed a ride across town. As sometimes happens, debris had accumulated in the floorboard of my car and I hurried to get it up before he got in. It was not a big cleaning project and only required a couple of minutes to finish, but in the process I did not realize that I had left the metal top of a peanut can in the mix. I still remember that stinging sensation as the sharp edge of the can top slid across my finger and into my flesh, leaving a flow of blood that looked like I had suffered a major injury. Just because something is hidden neither makes it nonexistent nor harmless.

There are lots of things in our world that can easily contaminate and damage our spiritual lives and our valuable relationships with others. We need to take serious measures to avoid sin, but if we do fall to temptation and become spiritually defiled we must be careful not to simply cover up our wrongdoings as though they are not there, but we must take the proper steps to get rid of them so that purity of heart can be restored. The psalmist David provided us with these heart searching thoughts as he called out to God for forgiveness: “Who can discern his errors? Forgive my hidden faults. Keep Your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then will I be blameless, innocent of great transgression” (Psalm 19:12-13, New International Version).

The attempts of humankind to try to hide his faults and guilt are not something that only exists in the modern world—it is a problem that goes back to the beginning of the human race. When the first man and woman—Adam and Eve—disobeyed the directions that God had clearly given them, they attempted to hide from Him instead of admitting their wrong doing: “The man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as He was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden” (Genesis 3:8). It was perhaps the first case of “You can run but you can’t hide”! We must never forget that hiding sin does not make it go away, but confessing and asking God for forgiveness is the solution. If you are hiding some sin in your life that is loading you down with guilt, there is no better time than right now to ask for God’s forgiveness.