The Unleavened Life: Taking in Sincerity and Truth

With three little ones involved, Mary and I have discovered that the deleavening process takes more time than it used to. We lack the time (and energy) to tackle larger chunks of the house in a single evening. Instead, we tend to dedicate entire evenings to smaller portions. One evening to vacuum out the work car. One evening for the minivan. One evening for the pantry. One evening for half of the living room. (The half with the couch. Fellow parents, I’m sure I don’t have to explain why that single piece of furniture might require a single evening.)

Anyway, what winds up happening is that this becomes a process we’re thinking about months in advance—and which often takes place over the course of multiple weeks. We wind up allotting more time to prepare for the Days of Unleavened Bread than we spend actually celebrating the days of Unleavened Bread.

I don’t know if it’s the same for you, but some years I catch myself more focused on what needs to go out than on what needs to come in.

Deleavening is, of course, a hugely important part of the buildup to Unleavened Bread. To have leaven within your house was to risk being “cut off from the congregation of Israel” (Exodus 12:19). And, thanks to the light God sheds on this feast through the apostle Paul, we understand that for one week, leaven pictures “malice and wickedness” (1 Corinthians 5:8). The analogy of sin that puffs up and spreads throughout whatever environment it’s allowed into—the idea that we must make the effort to remove it from our lives and remain vigilant against reintroducing it—these are core Christian concepts.

Keeping the leaven out is essential.

But it’s not the whole picture.

If all we do is remove, then all we create is a vacuum.

I think it’s worth noting that in God’s initial command to Israel, He allotted a single day to deleavening, but seven days for the eating of unleavened bread: “Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall remove leaven from your houses” (Exodus 12:15).

Neither aspect can be ignored. We must keep out malice and wickedness—must lay aside “the sin which so easily ensnares us” (Hebrews 12:1)—but we must also keep the Feast “with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (1 Corinthians 5:8).

Sincerity and truth.

This week, have we been taking those things in?

Or just guarding against malice and wickedness?

Neither is enough on its own. Neglecting either is a recipe for disaster. We must remove what doesn’t belong and fill the vacuum with what does.

Sincerity implies pure motives. Not hiding anything. When we’re sincere, we are on the inside as we appear on the outside. And truth deals with an accurate reflection of reality. The truth of God’s Word ought to sit at the core of our identity, and that truth at our core ought to produce a sincere change from the inside out.

There’s only room for sincerity and truth once malice and wickedness have been kicked to the curb—but evicting malice and wickedness doesn’t automatically produce sincerity and truth. Peace is not the absence of war, and righteousness is not the absence of sin.

We take in sincerity and truth when we eat of “the bread of life” (John 6:48)—that is, “the living bread which came down from heaven” (John 8:51). This is a week that focuses us not just on working with God to remove the parts of us that don’t belong, but on working with God to develop the parts that do. Replacing the works of the flesh with the fruit of the Spirit. Casting off the works of darkness and putting on the armor of light. Letting go of our will and accepting God’s will.

That’s not a process that we can finish in one day or even seven days. It stretches on for a lifetime—and during the course of that lifetime, once a year, every year, we are reminded that cleaning our spiritual houses is a multi-step process.

Malice and wickedness must be thrown out.

Sincerity and truth must come in.

Neither one happens accidentally.

Until next time,

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