Daily Cleaning Out Our Gunk: A Sermon Illustration

I suspect this illustration might be kind of gross to some readers, but I hope it makes a point. 


I take good care of my teeth. Really good care. I do that primarily because I did not earlier in life, and my failure then has cost me a lot of dental work and even more dollars since then. So, here’s what I do: I brush my teeth with my electric toothbrush first without toothpaste (at the recommendation of a dentist years ago), then floss my teeth, and then brush them again—this time with toothpaste. 

Two years ago, though, my wife bought me a Waterpik—a water flosser that sprays water to remove food still between your teeth. I now use it every night after I’ve finished the rest of the routine. And, you probably know what happens: no matter how much previous work I had done to clean my teeth, I inevitably have more gunk in my teeth that needs to be removed. The extra step removes food I didn’t even know (or even think) was there. 

Here, then, is why this illustration helps me. I want to walk with God fully, with nothing in my life that displeases Him. I realize that every day demands my confession and repentance. I’ve also learned over the years that I need to admit and turn from my sin quickly. 

At the same time, I’m learning that I don’t always recognize the depth of my sin. Sometimes I think I’ve confessed everything, when the truth is that arrogance remains . . . or lustful tendencies . . . or indwelling bitterness . . .  or self-dependence . . . or unrecognized jealousy . . . or any other sin I need the Spirit of God to bring to the surface. Even after I’ve confessed all the wrong I recognize, I need God to take a Waterpik to my soul to show me my remaining gunk. 

So, this is my daily prayer: “Lord, convict me of even the gunk I don’t even recognize is there still.” Perhaps you might pray that way, too.

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