I have utilized this passage of Scripture in two previous sermons. One titled, “What Are We to Do About the Missing Sheep and the Misplaced Silver?” and the other one titled, “When Was the Last Time the Church Threw a Party?”
Have you ever noticed that there are times when we can look through Scripture that we have already read before, that we just might see something else? It could be amazing, could it not? Suddenly, you are like, “Wow, I did not see that before!” Well, for me, this is one of those times.
In Luke 15:8-10, Jesus is telling the Parable of the Lost Coin. Ten silver coins were given to a woman as wedding presents.
Losing one of these coins could be extremely distressing for the woman because, like a wedding ring, the coins held sentimental value in addition to their financial value.
As a woman would rejoice when she finds her lost ring or coin, the angels would also rejoice over a sinner who repents. God holds each individual person as precious to Him. God is moved by every soul who has died.
He is happy whenever one of His children is found and brought into His Kingdom. It is possible that our congregations would experience more joy and happiness if we shared Jesus’ love and concern for the lost.
But how can we do this?
What Does it Mean to ‘Sweep the House’?
We should first look at why we would want to sweep the house. How many people have hardwood floors, laminate, or some other hard surface in their home rather than carpet?
Those who have carpet have to vacuum the carpet to remove the dirt, dust, and other unpleasant particles from the floor. Those who do not have carpet need to occasionally sweep their floors to remove all the unsightly gunk from off the floor.
(Side note… we can use the word vacuum as well as sweep in this message).
Sweeping the floor, or vacuuming, removes the impurities. If we do not, germs that lead to sickness can start to populate and grow. A dirty floor can lead to unpleasantness within the home. Along with that thought, any type of dirtiness can lead to quite a number of issues.
We see in our Scripture today that the woman (it could be a man as well) had lost or misplaced something precious to her. She had the wherewithal to admit that she had made a mistake and began to sweep the house.
She had to find that precious item that held such high value in her life. But to find that item, she would need to sweep the house. She started cleaning by removing the bad stuff.
How often, or if at all, do we take the time to remove the bad stuff from our own house? Matter of fact, do we even admit that we might have misplaced something (I am talking about our spiritual well-being) and start removing the bad?
We can see that this woman was working hard to find that precious coin that meant so much to her. But then look at what she did when she finally found it, she went and told someone.
What Does the Bible Say?
Let us take a moment to look at another passage of Scripture. We will give a bit of a rundown of the context of this first.
According to Genesis 24:28-59, Abraham’s servant approaches Rebekah’s family to ask for her hand in marriage to Isaac, confident that he has found God’s intended woman for Abraham’s son.
The servant explains in great detail how God brought him to Rebekah and their home after he was welcomed into their home.
The father and brother of Rebekah swiftly concur that they must permit this marriage. Rebekah agrees to leave that very day after a little bit of discussion about when she will travel to Canaan the following morning.
“Come, you who are blessed by the Lord,” he said. “Why are you standing out here? I have prepared the house and a place for the camels” (Genesis 24:31).
Laban, Rebekah’s brother, rushes to the town well or spring after hearing her account of everything Abraham’s servant had told her and seeing the gifts that he had given her. The servant is waiting there.
But all Rebekah or Laban really knows at this point is that the man is wealthy and looking for Abraham’s family. The servant has not yet made it clear that his task is to find a wife for Isaac, Abraham’s son (Genesis 24:3-4).
The servant is greeted warmly by Laban, who calls him the blessed one of the Lord and invites his companions to stay at their house.
In this era, hospitality was an important cultural value, especially among respectable people. It would be considered a grave act of unkindness to abandon anyone, particularly a relative or potential guest.
We are reminded of Abraham’s own eagerness to host the travelers who turned out to be the Lord and two angels in human form by the quickness and eagerness (Genesis 18:1-15) with which Rebekah and Laban welcomed Abraham’s servant.
It also brings to mind Lot’s urgent hospitality to the two strangers, both of whom were also angels, on the final night of Sodom (Genesis 19:1-3).
Now, you may question how this Scripture ties in with our message. Look at verse 31 again. Laban had said, “For I have prepared the house.” That tells us that the house had been swept out.
It was clean. What do most people allegedly do when they find out that they might have family, friends, or some other guests over to their homes? They clean it up. They do not want someone to see a potentially dirty home.
Not only do they want it to look clean, but they also do not want the possibility of any germs spreading. Do you not think that this is the case?
Granted, maybe some people only clean out of selfish pride so that they can “impress” whoever is coming over. Are we to hold pride in our hearts? No. If we look at another Scripture, what does it tell us to do?
if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land (2 Chronicles 7:14).
That pretty well wraps it up in a nutshell. We are to humble ourselves, we are to pray,we are to seek the Lord, and we are to turn away from sin.
How Does This Apply to Us Today?
Yes, that about sums it up. We need to get busy cleaning out our house (spiritual soul) by removing whatever it is that is holding us back from the blessings of the Lord.
Genuine contrition requires more than just mere words. It is a new transformation of our behavior. Whether we have personal sin, as a congregation, or collectively as a nation, these steps will result in forgiveness. Our sincere prayers will be answered by God.
Allow me to tell you a little story. I remember when I was in the Navy aboard the submarine tender, the USS Hunley AS-31. This was back in ‘85-‘87. We were stationed overseas in Holy Loch, Scotland.
Talk about being nervous. I had never been in a foreign country, much less out of my home state of Georgia. Anyway, it was the first time I had ever heard of the 1MC, the intercom system aboard a ship.
Someone would get on there and tell the crew whatever information that was needed throughout the day.
What does this have to do with sweeping the house, you might think? There is one routinely given order that is given every day around 1630 (that is 4:30 p.m.). It is called “Sweepers.” It goes like this…
“Sweepers, Sweepers, man your brooms. Give the ship a clean sweep down both fore and aft! Sweep down all lower decks, ladder wells and passageways! Remove all trash from the ship. Now Sweepers.”
Why did I tell this little story? I want us to take a moment and think about our message. The woman swept the house to find her misplaced coin.
In the story of Laban, Rebekah, and the servant, Laban said, “For I have prepared the house,” meaning that the house was clean and ready to receive guests. In the story of the ship sweepers, an order is given to remind the crew to clean the ship.
We, as children of God, are continually to “sweep out the dirt” so that nothing settles within that can degrade our spiritual hearts.
We are to keep ourselves clean from any impurities that would hinder the light of Christ from shining through to a dark world. My friend, when was the last time that you swept out the dirt.
Or are you one of those that has never allowed your heart to be cleansed? Right now is the time to seek God’s forgiveness and sweep out the dirt.