Dublin First United Methodist Church
Thursday, September 20, 2018
To reach, teach and serve others in the name and love of Jesus Christ


Tyler's Take


I think it is fair to assume that most of us have heard the phrase: “Cleanliness is next to Godliness?”  We have likely heard this phrase spoken in our homes when we were growing up by our parents as they were trying to get us to take a bath when we were children.  We may have heard this phrase spoken in our schools by our teachers who were seeking to have us understand the importance of good hygiene.  We may have even heard this phrase in church from the pastor or the Sunday school teacher who was trying to convey to us the importance of “being cleansed by God.”  We have likely heard this phrase so much that we just assumed it must be scriptural; yet the truth of the matter is that this phrase can be found nowhere in the Bible, because it is not scripture.

This phrase is a secular proverb that has been attributed to John Wesley (the founder of the Methodist Movement), who spoke these words in a sermon that he preached in 1778.  In this famous message, Wesley said: “Slovenliness is no part of religion.  Cleanliness is indeed next to Godliness.”  Though Wesley may have made this phrase famous, he certainly did not create it; this phrase dates back to many hundreds of years before his birth.  It has since become so ubiquitous in our culture that we have begun to ascribe these words with a certain level of sacredness and now even afford these words the same influential nature as Holy Scripture.

This is likely because this phrase sounds so much like scripture that we just assume that it actually is scripture.  It sounds as though it was cherry picked straight from the pages of the Book of Proverbs.  As if King Solomon or King David had hand written these words themselves.  Yet, this phrase is really nothing more than a collection of words clothed in the disguise of scripture; just a statement that presents itself to the public as something that it is not.  This phrase then becomes much like the spiritual lives of so many of us, something that seems devout but in reality is nothing more than a false front, a mask of righteousness that hides a corrupt heart.

Our spiritual life, like this phrase, can often appear to be something that it is not.  We can easily portray a deep level of piety and a profound relationship with God for the entire world to see, when we in truth, we are just pretending to be something that we are not.  In order to truly become what we seek to portray to the world, a devout person of faith, we must actually devote ourselves to the timeless practices of our faith.  We must dig deep into what is actual truth not that which our culture has come to accept as truth.  We must drill down into the depths of our faith by diligently seeking to grow in faith through prayer, worship, study and service.  Otherwise, we are just hypocrites, simply pretending to be something we are not and fooling ourselves and the world by presenting ourselves to be something that we are not.