My vast medical knowledge (sarcasm alert) was expanded a bit today. I had been scheduled for outpatient surgery weeks ago, a simple procedure to remove a sizable growth from my left great toe. But then came the Covid crisis, and all elective surgeries were put on temporary hold, mine included. Rather than wait out another delay, my doctor thought it best to remove the pesky growth in his office under a local anesthesia rather than using a hospital setting. I have encountered numerous surgical procedures prior to this one, but I would soon find that this particular outing would most definitely be a learning experience for me.
After I was whisked back into the surgical room, I quickly gained an appreciation for the depth of the preparations that would proceed the actual cutting. I was wide awake for this surgery, affording me the opportunity to watch in amazement as the doctor and his assistant meticulously ‘scrubbed up,’ donned their surgical gear, unwrapped the tools of their trade, prepped and cleaned my foot, covering all exposed surfaces. My goodness, a germ could not possibly survive in that room when they were done. It was in that moment that this fact was driven home to me: all the skill that the surgeon possessed in his hands would be fruitless if the absolute cleanliness of his ‘sterile, surgical field’ was compromised in even the slightest of ways.
As I was traveling home from that procedure, I pondered that sterile, surgical field, that absolute purity and cleanliness required for a successful surgery. The apostle Paul certainly understood the importance that purity and holiness held in his ministry. He grasped the notion that a blameless life was the lifeblood of his outreach to others. As he exhorted Timothy and the church at Thessolonica, Paul reminded that young church that he had behaved himself “holily and justly and unblameably” among them. And not only were the people witness of his pure motives, but “God also” would attest that His faithful minister used not “deceit, nor…uncleanness…nor guile” or “a cloak of covetousness” when entrusted with the preaching and teaching of God’s precious Word. Paul’s life was honest, open, and clean before those to whom he was called to minister, and as a result, God’s favor and blessings rained down upon his preaching.
To be a usable child of the King, I must strive to be “a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use,” purging myself of those “youthful lusts,” and replacing them with “righteousness, faith, charity, (and) peace…out of a pure heart.” Just as that skilled surgeon prepared his ‘work area,’ freeing that space of any possible contaminants, I must constantly ask my Lord to “purge me with hyssop,” “wash me…blot out mine iniquities…create in me a clean heart…” so that I can be a vessel available to be used of Him at a moment’s notice. All pride, self-seeking motives, worldliness, and deceit must be flushed away and replaced with the character of Christ.
The psalmist knew that a clean vessel was essential in God’s economy, so he posed this query: “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way?’ Where does one go to ‘scrub up,’ to apply the disinfectants, to prepare the ‘field’ for service? Thankfully, God immediately provides the formula for the cleansing process; it is achieved “by taking heed thereto according to thy Word.” Only when I constantly apply His Word to my life, hide that Word in my heart, meditate upon those precious Words, and submit in obedience to God’s authority in my life, can my surgical field be clean and ready to be used to spread His good news of salvation.
How clean is my life before Him, and before those to whom He calls me to minister? Have I allowed small impurities and careless iniquities to dirty my vessel and render me unfit for my Father’s use. May I be as meticulous as that surgeon as I attempt to keep my life pure in His sight.
Psalm 119:9 Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word.
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