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Is It Cheese?

by Sarah Fehr  
12/06/2018 / Christian Living


In spite of the fact that I am a stay-at-home mom, or perhaps because of it, I acutely dislike washing dishes. In fact, you might say that I despise it. But as every homemaker knows, there is no escape from the loathsome job. True, the dishwasher vastly expedites the task, but there seems to exist a plethora of mixing bowls, pots, and insulated mugs that are better off hand-washed. Every few days my counter fills up with these dreaded items, and the moment seizes me - I have to wash them or go crazy. (And yes, I hear those muffled sniggers from my family members indicating their disbelief that I profess to be sane to begin with.)

Yesterday I arrived at one of those do-or-die moments. I filled the sink with hot soapy water and adeptly fended off the additions that my children thought necessary, such as crayons, stickers, and toy cars. The last two items to wash were covered Tupperware containers, the type that my husband uses for his lunch.

Generally I rinse these as soon as they make their way to the counter to avoid the overwhelming stench that can build up in a closed container, especially in the heat of summer. I popped the innocuous white lid off one Tupperware and quickly swung my head away, hand seeking to protect my nostrils from the assault.

This was no rinsed out dish; apparently I had assumed it was empty, left it covered and subsequently placed it on the counter for washing. And even more apparently, there was one piece of comestible lingering inside. It took me a minute to identify it as a hunk of cheese, covered as it was with verdigris splotches.

I would like to say that I immediately was reminded of Jesus' scathing metaphor of the cup and saucer, clean on the outside and full of filth on the inside, but it was lost on me for the moment as I turned from the sink and hung my torso over the kitchen island to recover myself.

It was only later as I read Jesus' words in Matthew 23:25, that I recalled the incident. "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean." (ESV)

If greed and self-indulgence smell anything like that half-rotten cheese, then they most certainly are vile traits. And almost every day of my life I understand a bit more just how vile. You see, growing up, I thought of myself as largely good, stainless, and unoffending. Just like that dish, my outer self appeared unblemished - not a spot of violence, rage, foul language, drunkenness, and certainly not witchcraft, adultery, or fornication. In time the Spirit began to teach me that simply the belief that I was "good" was itself a stinking blot seething within my vessel.

What a relief to realize that I didn't need to desperately labor to conceal that blemish. If I would only acknowledge my imperfection, just say "Yes, it's there. Yes, I am a common sinner!" then the Spirit would help me find forgiveness and a change of attitude.

I ended up taking that container out to the back yard and scraping out the rubbery cheese with a conveniently accessible wood chip. (Maybe the skunks will appreciate it more than I did.) After gingerly rinsing it out with the hose, I placed it in my sink and scrubbed it with hot soapy water and a dash of vinegar. Now it's as good as new, and most assuredly God will likewise cleanse me if I choose to acknowledge the repugnant, moldy cheese festering inside my container.

Sarah Fehr is a wife and mother of two who finds creative outlet in writing about everyday life.

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