“He treated the outsiders exactly as he treated us, beginning at the very center of who they were and working from that center outward, cleaning up their lives as they trusted and believed him.” Acts 15:9

My husband was only joking when he said it, but it spoke volumes of truth to me.

He was telling me that he’d taken Annie, one of our three Labs, along for the ride when he picked our daughter up from school that day.

“She wants me to bring Lucky [our yellow Lab, who doesn’t really care for car rides] next week,” he said.

“What about Delta?” I asked. Delta is our oldest Lab, and she loves car rides so much that if you leave your door open and don’t watch her, she’ll jump right into your car. She also likes to lay in the dirt under my parent’s house next door, so her black fur is usually sporting brown spots of dirt.

“She’s too dirty. She can’t go until she can clean herself up.”

Now, he was joking, of course! It’s a little unreasonable to expect that dog to give herself a bath. She’s completely unable to turn on the water hose, lather herself up with shampoo, and rinse it off! But the Holy Spirit spoke to me through his words.

How many times do we expect new believers, or even those who have served God for a while and messed up, to clean themselves? It can be easy to forget that we were once in their shoes, sinners bound for Hell, unable to pick ourselves up, much less clean up our own act. It takes the miraculous power of God to purge our lives of sin, and it’s a process that never stops. As long as we put our trust in Him, He will continue to work on us.

Delta can’t give herself a bath, and neither can we. She depends on us, and we depend on Him. None of us can get clean under our own power, because we have none! Only God’s grace working in us can rid us of the stains this world leaves on our souls. Only He can clean us up!