Take Out The Trash
by Pastor George Van Alstine

Hey, no one likes to do it, but if you don’t, your place will soon be a cluttered mess. Also, the smell may not be very sweet. So get to it and take out that trash!

In his advice to the Roman believers, the Apostle Paul included a word about the trash that can easily accumulate in our lives:

“Let us throw away the works of darkness . . . , partying and drunkenness, fleshly indulgence, quarreling and jealousy. Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.” (Romans 13:12-14)

Paul’s tone here is not so much horror at the thought of some lustful sins. Rather, he speaks of these things as just clutter in a serious believer’s life. He mentions the everyday, non-dramatic human failings of “quarreling and jealousy” along with the more obvious sins of the flesh. What they have in common is that they get in the way of positive Christian living. And if we don’t get them out of our lives, the smell can get pretty fierce.

Paul encourages his readers to “make no provision for the flesh.” That would be like making space in your house for the accumulation of garbage. The antidote he suggests is to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ.” If he occupies the biggest part of our living room, he’ll take up the empty space where trash piles could build up.

I have a very vivid memory of a situation in which a few church members cleaned out a rented house where an irresponsible family had been living. They drove out of town in a hurry, leaving behind rooms full of useless trash and furniture destroyed by abuse. The worst of the mess was in the cellar. For weeks before their departure they had been throwing bags of garbage down the stairs from the kitchen—yes food garbage. We shoveled it into countless trash cans, which we carried up the stairs and dumped into a waiting truck. The most lasting impression I have of this is a very profound smell-memory.

I wonder how offensive the accumulated garbage in our lives can sometimes be to God. Does he have to hold his nose when he comes near to hear our prayers and to graciously help us?