Ceramic floor tile is very unforgiving.

Trying to find something in our pantry the other day, my wife nudged the spaghetti sauce just a little too far, and off the shelf it tumbled. The glass jar hit the tile and burst open, sending glass shards and bright red sauce in all directions.

And company was scheduled to arrive in less than an hour.

Since she had other last-minute preparations to make, I tackled the clean-up project. A bottle of spray cleaner and about half a roll of paper towel later — unless you knew where to look, you would never know a quart jar of sticky red liquid had splashed on the floor, the pantry door, the baseboard and the wall. By attacking it quickly, we avoided any permanent stain.

Don’t you wish life were as easy to clean up as a jar of spaghetti sauce? As big a mess as the broken glass and the sauce made, they don’t compare with some of the messes we make of our lives. A few bad decisions can result in a lot of misery.

But all is not lost. When Paul wrote to the Christians at Corinth, he didn’t mince words. He reminded them of their former lives. He specifically addressed those who had been sexually immoral, thieves, greedy, drunkards, slanderers and swindlers, among other things. Then he boldly added, “And that is what some of you were” (1 Corinthians 6:11). Ouch!

As bad as that sounds, though, I don’t want you to miss the past tense: “you were” not “you are.” As much trouble as they had been in, and as messy as some of their lives had become, it was in the past. “But you were cleansed,” Paul went on to say, “you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

As messy as life can get, we don’t have to stay in the mess. God can make us new.