It always happens the same way. It starts so slowly that it is barely noticeable.
I’m talking about the waste basket in my office. I never think about it until I look over and the pile of trash has crept up near the top edges.
Hmmm, I really need to empty that, I think. But not right now. I’ll do it later.
Several days later I find myself mashing the trash down with my foot to keep it contained in the basket.
I should really empty that.
But just as quickly as the thought appears, my mind moves on to other things.
I’ll take care of it later.
After another couple days, the pile is no longer able to be contained in the basket. But stacked just right, it doesn’t topple to the floor either. It’s as if I create the Leaning Tower of Pisa in my office weekly.
It is usually at this point that my co-workers begin to notice. They stop by and casually remark, “Looks like it might be time to empty your trash can.”
I laugh and whole-heartedly agree. It’s on my to-do list. But as more pressing issues capture my attention, I leave the growing pile of refuse to be dealt with later.
After a few more days a strange odor begins to arise from the corner beside my desk. Now it’s time to take action. Unsightly may be acceptable, but smelly is where I draw the line!
The problem is, once the trash pile reaches a certain level, it is nearly impossible to transport the waste basket down the hall without several of the empty coffee cups, greasy food wrappers, and discarded papers falling to the ground, often soiling my clothes in the process. By waiting so long to take out my trash, I’ve ended up with a huge mess.
Why am I sharing my waste basket woes with you? Because it recently occurred to me that our spiritual lives can sometimes work the same way as my overflowing trash can.
As we go through life it’s easy to pick up a few bad habits along the way. Often, when sin creeps into our lives, it does so slowly. At first it may be barely noticeable. Perhaps one day you laugh at a joke and later feel a twinge of guilt. I shouldn’t have laughed at that, you think. But a few days later you find yourself telling the same joke to your friends.
Or maybe you slowly become less discerning than you once were about what television shows and movies you watch. Maybe your favorite TV show isn’t that bad, but in the back of your mind you know that if Jesus were to walk into your room and see it, you would find yourself slightly embarrassed.
Often we deceive ourselves about our behaviors. We try to justify them. Yes, I may have repeated gossip, but everyone knows that what I said was true. Is it really gossip if it’s factual? Yes, I may have been rude to that clerk at the store, but couldn’t she see that I was in a hurry?
One of my Sunday School teachers always encouraged us to “keep short accounts with God.” She meant that we should identify sins in our lives and immediately confess them to Christ and turn away from them. Otherwise, those small private sins can quickly spiral out of control.
Scripture seems to agree. The book of Proverbs warns us, “He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy” (Proverbs 28:13).
With each small sin we become desensitized. As we drift farther from God, the devil whispers in our ear that whatever we are doing is not really that bad. God won’t mind.
But if we don’t allow God to deal with us and cleanse our hearts from anything that doesn’t match up with His standards, we can end up with a big mess on our hands. Pretty soon we reach a point where our sin piles up, and like my overflowing trash can, it spills out into our lives.
Our sins never affect only us. They affect our relationship with God, our relationships with others, and sometimes people around us that we don’t even know. They see our behavior and decide that if this is the way Christians act, then they want no part of our faith.
The good news is that we cannot hide our actions from Jesus. He knows the things that we hide within our hearts, and He wants to release us from them.
The Bible tells us, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
We can turn around at any point and allow Him to clean up our lives. Jesus never turns us away when we come to Him.
Is there any trash in your life that needs to be thrown out? Allow Jesus to take out the garbage now before it creates a huge stinky mess that you’ll have to deal with later.
Do you have a relationship with Jesus Christ? Meet Him Today.
Copyright © 2006 CBN.com 2007. Used with permission.[schemaapprating]