Spring Cleaning for the Soul

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2 Corinthians 13:5 (NIV)
Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you-unless, of course, you fail the test?

Spring is such a promising time of year. When you look out your window, you likely see more sunshine, flowers blooming, and other signs that life is replacing the cold dearth of winter.

While we often focus on spring cleaning as a way to get rid of things in our homes that we don’t want to hold onto, it’s also a great idea to take this opportunity to recalibrate spiritually. Getting rid of some toxic thoughts and behaviors that have the power to clutter your soul is an important step to take.

While there’s nothing wrong with doing so with your spring cleaning, this is the type of cleaning that we should do regularly. Here’s your spiritual spring-cleaning checklist.


Matthew 6:14-15 (NIV)
“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

Undoubtedly, you can look back over your life and find examples of people hurting you. Take a moment and think back to the first time that you felt like somebody did something that hurt your feelings.

Perhaps another child at school said something that hurt you. Maybe your instances of pain came from a family member. Regardless of the source, each of us has a moment in life where hurt made its way in.

As we get older, it’s not uncommon for the way that we process hurt feelings to grow with us. While many people use the terms “unforgiveness” and “bitterness” interchangeably, they’re two very different ideas. With that in mind, we’re going to add both to our spiritual spring-cleaning list.

Forgiving other people is one of the hardest things that we must do as Christians. This is especially true when those people don’t even apologize for the things that they’ve done to us.

Pastor, author, and producer, T.D. Jakes once said, “Unforgiveness is like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies.” It sounds ridiculous when you say it like that, doesn’t it?

Start your spring cleaning for the soul by intentionally deciding to forgive anyone whom you haven’t forgiven. Not only does this allow you to set yourself free from the burden of unforgiveness, but it also ensures that you’re in a position to receive the forgiveness that you need from God.


Hebrews 12:14-15 (NIV)
Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.

While bitterness and unforgiveness are closely related, they’re not the same things. With that in mind, it’s important that you spend some spring-cleaning time focusing on any bitterness that you’re harboring in your life.

While unforgiveness is about people who have hurt you, bitterness can be about people, circumstances, and anything else that has caused you to suffer.

It’s not uncommon for us to struggle with bitterness after we’ve gone through a season of adversity that wasn’t our fault. For instance, if you haven’t done anything wrong, but you find out that your job is being phased out due to economic downsizing, you may find yourself feeling bitter about the years of service that you provided to your company. When you leave bitterness unchecked, it takes root like the writer of Hebrews was talking about in this verse. That root then turns into something far stronger.

Do you know anyone who walks around with a “chip on their shoulder?” There are some people who have become so jaded by the things that they’ve gone through that they cannot accept the fact that anything good is happening. Instead of being able to enjoy the seasons of peace, they’re constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Not only do these feelings lead to anxiety and stress, but they often cause people to lash out in anger at anyone for anything. It doesn’t take much to “set off” a person who has a root of bitterness in his or her life.

Letting go of bitterness cleans out your soul on a deep level. It’s not a coincidence that the writer of Hebrews referred to bitterness as a root. Roots grow deep beneath the surface, working where no one can see.

In the physical, spring cleaning often involves dusting surfaces and cleaning out closets. Dusting is important, just like letting go of some of these negative behaviors and thoughts is important.

However, deep cleaning and getting rid of things that no one can see is also important. That’s what removing bitterness from your life is like.


Philippians 4:11-13 (NIV)
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

While people often think that jealousy is an emotion that is reserved for children and teens, there are plenty of adults who deal with the “green-eyed monster” named Jealousy.

Jealousy is a multi-faceted concept that expands on our insecurities. When you look around at people who have nicer things than you, you may feel like your life simply doesn’t compare to theirs. When you have friends who take more lavish vacations than you do, you might feel like you’re not creating the same memories with your family that they make with theirs.

Jealousy can also open the door to sin. In the most extreme cases, people who are jealous of the lives that others lead will do anything to get those things in their own life. Even if you’re not dealing with jealousy on that level, it can lead to bitterness, resentment, and self-isolation.

The opposite of jealousy is contentment, which is what Paul promoted in this passage. If anyone had a right to be jealous of others, it was Paul. He knew religious leaders who were not nearly as dedicated as he was to the Gospel, but they were living much more comfortable lives than he was living.

Instead of choosing jealousy, Paul chose contentment. When you remove jealousy from your life, you can do the same.


Ephesians 4:26-27 (NIV)
“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.

Christians often struggle with anger. It’s not that they let their anger get out of control. Instead, the Christian’s struggle with anger typically revolves around whether it’s a sin for Christians to be angry.

Anger is a natural human emotion that God wired into us at birth. God didn’t put anything sinful in us, which means that it’s OK for us to get angry.

This passage from Ephesians isn’t about eliminating anger from your life, and neither is adding anger to your spiritual spring-cleaning list. Instead, anger’s presence on this list is about the tendency that we have to let that anger get out of control.

Paul said that we shouldn’t let the sun go down while we’re angry. That means that we shouldn’t hold onto anger. Instead, it’s meant to be a fleeting emotion. Apply this advice from Scripture and release yourself from the long-term anger that you’ve been holding onto.

A Closing Prayer:

Heavenly Father, help me to release these things from my life. Give me the strength through the Holy Spirit to get rid of the things that stand between me and You. In Christ’s name, Amen.

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