It's one thing for a one year old to end up with half his meal on his cheeks. I have a cute picture of Lucas after his first plate of spaghetti. He is red from fingertips to shoulders, and ear to ear. The only reason it wasn't worse is that I had the sense to tie, not a bib, but one of my kitchen aprons around his neck. But by the time he was Bessy's age, he could eat neatly, if still voraciously.
It is an absolute shame that we need to mention grown up Messy Bessys in the church, but they are there. Have you ever looked at a theater floor after a movie, or the grandstand after a ball game? Spilled drinks, scattered popcorn, empty boxes, sunflower seed hulls, and a few things I hate to even ask about lie there for the cleaning crew to take care of. Unfortunately, some church meetinghouses look nearly as bad. All sorts of papers litter the pews from lesson sheets to bulletins to candy wrappers, cough drop wrappers, cookie and cracker crumbs, and spilled Cheerios. The bathrooms aren't much better, with soiled paper towels thrown everywhere but the trash can, toilets unflushed, and water dripping off the counters.
No one should have to clean up my mess but me. A mature adult knows that. What kind of impression are we leaving on visitors? And just what do we think we are teaching our children? Where is the spirit of "Lord, Make Me a Servant" that we sing so sincerely? No, we expect some other servant somewhere to come in and pick up after us the way our Mama used to. Do we still need her to tag along?
And what does grown up Messy Bessy do? She still has little concern for how the church looks to outsiders. She will trash it with her complaints about how it is run, with the slander she spreads about her brothers and sisters, and with her ridicule of the preacher and his work. She will spread its dirty laundry for all to see, even that which has been cleaned "white as snow" by the Lord through repentance. Then when none of her friends are interested in coming to church with her, she is ready to accuse them of a lack of spirituality.
All of the things we have talked about in this series may start with a simple childhood fault, but every one of them has led to something far more sinister spiritually. If I cannot keep my space neat literally, what will happen to my heart? If the first comes from a don't-care attitude and a lack of personal responsibility, so will the second—a mess of a life that breaks hearts and ruins souls.
Clean up your act, Bessy. Grow up and be accountable.
Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. (Col 4:5-6)
and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders…(1Thess 4:11-12).