“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” – 2 Corinthians 13:14
Returning home, the miners found that their house wasn’t the same as when they had left it.
The stack of unwashed dishes that had been setting out had been cleaned and put away. The floor had been swept. The cobwebs had been cleared and even the fireplace had been tidied up! The laundry had been washed, dried, and been put away. There were even fresh cut flowers adorning the table.
When the miners found the work that had been done, they were shocked and suspicious. Why would someone do this?
You’ve likely guessed that this is a scene from the timeless classic “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.” Snow White comes across the home of the dwarfs and finds it to be an absolute mess. The dwarfs aren’t home, and she decides to tidy up the place.
This reminds me of the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts. The loving work of the Spirit is called sanctification.
In Luther’s Small Catechism, question 190 asks, “What does it mean to be sanctified by the Spirit?” The answer illustrates the love of the Holy Spirit quite nicely.
It means that He makes me holy.
A. The Spirit first sanctifies me by bringing me to the Lord Jesus to receive His gifts through faith.
B. The Holy Spirit then sanctifies me by strengthening my faith and increasing its fruit within my life. He gives me new desires so that I strive to overcome sin and do good works.
How wonderful the love of God the Holy Spirit is for us! He comes to us and finds us dead in sin, blind to the things of God, and enemies of God. Then He does His work of calling, gathering, enlightening, and sanctifying us. He takes us from being dead to being alive in Christ!
But He also comes to us and sees the condition of our hearts and says, “This will never do. It’s a mess!” And He begins to sweep and clean and wash and renew our hearts.
The dwarfs, at first, were taken aback upon discovering that Snow White had so thoroughly cleaned their home. Sometimes we get so comfortable with the mess and the filth that we aren’t prepared for the Spirit to do His work of clearing it out. It can be uncomfortable. It can even be a painful process for us.
God the Holy Spirit loves us as we are, but He also loves us too much to leave us as we are. In His love He inhabits our sin sick hearts. He is not turned away by the filth of our sin, and as He abides in us, the Holy Spirit does His sanctifying work.
So, as we see the hearts that are so prevalent this time of year because of Valentine’s Day, let’s remember the loving work the Spirit is doing in our hearts.
Holy Spirit, we give thanks that You have come to us. We thank you for bringing us to faith and sustaining us in the faith. We thank you also for sanctifying our hearts, minds, and lives. Though You found us filled with sin, You have worked and will continue to work to sanctify our hearts, minds, and lives. Help us to recognize this as loving work that You do for us so that we might rejoice in it and not fight against it. In Jesus name. Amen.
- God’s Word and Sacraments are the means by which the Holy Spirit works. What does this tell us about the importance of being in worship and in God’s Word?
- Many people think that they need to “clean up their lives” before they can rightly begin attending church. What is the problem with such thinking?
- Are there areas in your life that you might be hesitant to let the Holy Spirit do His sanctifying work? If so, why?