Ministry Resources

Have You Cleaned Behind Your Ears?

Author: Barbara Lighthizer

“Why must I wash behind my ears? That’s what I want to know. Why can’t I just wash hands and knees? Places that really show.” [1]

The poem “Silly to Fuss,” by Paul Hamlyn, is a youngster’s response to what seems to him to be an unnecessary effort. The child finally gives in to cleaning behind his ears, but only when he realizes it is a necessity. Obedience to God is vital for our relationship with the Lord, even if the matter is something that seems trivial to us. We need to “clean our spiritual ears” regularly, too.


Dirt behind the ears may go unnoticed at first, but eventually the neglect of cleaning will be obvious. So it is with our unseen actions and thought life. Sexual fantasies may play in our mind, or perhaps we imagine telling our boss or spouse off over some incident that upset us. When we are running behind schedule and find ourselves stuck in slow-moving traffic, our stress level escalates. Then a driver cuts in front of us, and we miss the green light. It is difficult to keep from muttering a few choice words, which we would never want our family to hear. Traffic frustration brings out surprising responses from even the most devout Christians.

We are grateful that no one knows the content of our imagination or the words uttered in privacy. However, we need to remind ourselves that the Lord is completely aware of every thought, word, and action.

Obedience to His Word is just as important when we are alone as it is when we are in public.

Christian men struggle with sexual fantasies, and because these take place in the privacy of their minds, the importance of eliminating the activity does not seem urgent. All sin will eventually reap destruction, and this type of dirt can build up until eventually it will be visible for others to see.

Thought Life

Living alone, I might go several days without conversing with anyone. One day, I realized my thought life was affecting my mood, so I began to analyze where my mind wandered. My thoughts would process past mistakes and all the reasons I felt justified in choosing to take a particular action in a relationship problem. Feeling sorry for myself because I did not get any phone calls would also filter through my mind during the day.

No wonder I was depressed. My thoughts were garbage. These thought patterns may seem harmless compared to sexual or hateful fantasies, but they do not follow the Lord’s instructions in Philippians 4:8. “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.”

We may be great examples of Christians in public, but are we pleasing to the Lord when we are alone? Is the dirt accumulating behind our spiritual ears? Dealing with the areas that no one sees may seem insignificant, but if we want to be like Jesus, it is required.

1. Paul Hamlyn, "Silly to Fuss," in The Family Book of Christian Values, Stuart and Jill Briscoe (Elgin, IL: Chariot Family Publishing, 1995), 257.

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