Cleanliness Is Next to Godliness

Most are familiar with this quote and who doesn’t want to be more Godly and closer to God?  While many attribute this quote to the Bible, in fact, it is not in the Bible. However cleanliness (purity) is attributed to most spiritual practices, e.g, ablutions before prayers, baptism, etc. Cleanliness means to be pure, free from dirt, marks or stains. The body and our surroundings can be dirty. Our unkind words and deeds can leave marks on our soul and the hearts of others.  Our shameful deeds can leave stains in our memories.  So where did the quote come from? John Wesley spoke in a sermon:

“Let it be observed, that slovenliness is no part of religion; that neither this, nor any text of Scripture, condemns neatness of apparel. Certainly this is a duty, not a sin. ‘Cleanliness is, indeed, next to godliness.’ Sermons No xciii,” On Dress.”

How clean is your mind, body, and soul? The first thing we see in an individual is their physical appearance and that is what many react to, but cleanliness and purity must be present in all things, our dress, our speech, and our deeds. The Baha’i Faith teaches:
“External cleanliness, although it is but a physical thing, hath a great influence upon spirituality (1).”   Cleanliness and sanctity in all conditions are characteristics of pure beings and necessities of free souls.  In all his actions and conduct there must first be purity, then beauty and independence. The channel must be cleansed before it is filled with sweet water. The pure eye comprehendeth the sight and the meeting of God; the pure nostril inhaleth the perfumes of the rose-garden of bounty; the pure heart becometh the mirror of the beauty of truth.”(Abdu’l-Baha, Baha’i World Faith – Abdu’l-Baha Section, p. 333)

Are You Programmed for Poverty or Wealth?

I remember in my early twenties reading a book called the ‘The Magic of Thinking Big,’ In my circles at the time thinking big was being able to pay the rent, buy a suede coat after saving up for months, or just having a job.  My limiting environmental programming had taught me that to want much more was greed, to ask for more than the basics was selfish.  I had to overcome this early programming in order to be successful.

A familiar phrase of the elders were, “The children in Africa are starving.” Their intent was “Be grateful,” for they had gone through much harder times and sacrificed for us to have what little we had. But, the message I heard was, “Don’t ask for much in life.”  Even the church was complicit, teaching that, “It is easier for a camel to get through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get to heaven.”  Their intent was to teach us not to put wealth before God.  The message I got was that I had to choose between God and wealth because it is impossible to have both.

Even as a child I knew that it was impossible for a camel to get through the eye of a needle.  Fortunately I learned later in life that ‘The Eye of the Needle” is a difficult camel passage and a place and not a physical needle.  That changed the message entirely.  To complete the negative indoctrination regarding money, my father would comment regularly when seeing rich people that they were crooks.  I’m sure that was probably his personal experience doing migrant work and growing up in the South.  However the takeaway message confirmed the church’s message, “If you choose wealth, then you are going against God and salvation.”

Who says you can’t have both?  There are so many spiritual teachings that teach us of our power and greatness.  Abundance is also an attribute of God and as spiritual heirs, wealth is ours.  The importance determinant is what we do with that wealth. Do we serve, remain moral and upright, and are we grateful to the point of sharing?  That’s how we measure the value of wealth.

I’m Barbara Talley, the poet who speaks and inspires.  To find out more about me check out: What Does Barbara Do? or visit  my website.