When God gave the Law to Moses, He went into a lot of detail with regard to handling mildew that might appear on articles of clothing, leather, and containers, as well as on walls of houses. The Lord was very specific about the various types of mildew, the tests to use to distinguish which was which, and what to do about it. The goal was always to preserve as much of the article, house, etc. as possible, unless it was found to be a destructive mildew. Then, the only means of containment was the destruction of the infected object.
Destroying an entire house was the absolute last resort, as it would leave a family homeless and without their possessions, much like catastrophic house fires of today. So the idea was to be watchful, catch mildew’s presence early, and if it was indeed the destructive variety, deal with it quickly before it spread far. That still often meant that the plaster would have to be scraped off all the walls to find the source. Hopefully, only a few infected stones would have to be dug out and replaced with new ones. Then all the walls would have to be replastered. It was a lot of work, but it preserved the house.
Paul posed an important question to Christ-followers, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, Who is in you, Whom you have received from God?” (1 Corinthians 6:19) What if God’s instruction for dealing with mildew was a metaphor for maintaining our “houses” in the healthiest manner? If so, what do we need to look out for, and how do we recognize it?
We can start with what Jesus identified as the greatest commandments: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. 31 The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31) This would make LOVE the hallmark of our home décor, and 1 Corinthians 13 our guide to identify both beautiful walls and contaminated walls. Ideally, our walls should be painted with patience and kindness, and glazed with Truth that brings joy to the entire dwelling. Knowing this makes it easier to see where the “mildew” of envy, boastfulness, rudeness, anger, pride, or selfish ambition break out. If we are willing to do frequent inspections, we can catch this “mildew” early when it can be killed with the bleach of repentance and forgiveness. If allowed to stay, these things permeate surfaces, entrenching themselves, then spreading – destructive mildew – with the goal of taking control. The tell-tale sign is that they reappear after multiple washings.
The good news is that as long as it is contained, destructive mildew can be cut out. But because these things are heart and mind attitudes, they require the power and authority of the Holy Spirit, along with the spiritual weapons of warfare – especially the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God (Ephesians 6:17). The Holy Spirit as the revealer of truth wants to help us identify the “mildew” in our hearts, surgically cut it out, and then replace it with clean materials that come only from God. The completed renovation should showcase spotless walls with magnificent displays of protection, hope, trust, and perseverance — amounting to a love that never fails (1 Corinthians 13:4-6). Then we are ready to do the loving works He has prepared for us in advance to do.
Proverbs 10:11-12 will identify the success of our work. “The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.12 Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs.” Is the mildew gone yet?