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Take Out The Trash

This morning on my way into the church office I noticed several pieces of trash at our entrances. It’s not uncommon for it to collect daily as we are on a main highway. I stopped my car, got out, and walked between the driveways collecting the trash. I greatly care about the appearance of our church property as its condition speaks volumes to the community. What looked like a few pieces turned out to fill two plastic grocery bags. It was also helpful I found the two bags among the rest of the trash. Throwing it into the back of my truck, I headed to the dumpster. I felt proud of the new clean drives but knew by morning it could be messed up again. Constant attention is needed to ensure a neat entrance to our church facility.
As I walked in between the driveways I couldn’t help relate the picking up of daily trash to the spiritual necessity of daily confessing my sins to the Lord. Now, my wife and I have tried to train our kids (by example and instruction) to throw away their trash as they generate it. Don’t eat a popsicle and throw the trash on the floor. When trash comes, deal with it immediately. That doesn’t always happen. The same is true for sin. As it generates, we should have enough example and instruction from Scripture to deal with it right then. Better still is listening to the Holy Spirit as I am reminded of His Word to flee from sin and not commit it at all. However, when we do sin, the Scripture tells us to deal with it swiftly. 1 John 1:8 says, “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us”. Also, “If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us” (1 John 1:10). The good news is when we sin, Jesus is our advocate with the Father (1 John 2:1) as well as the one who completely paid for our sins in the cross (1 John 2:2). So, we take out the “trash” with 1 John 1:9, ” If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

Like the trash in the driveway, we can drive by our sins thinking “there’s not too much, it’s not too bad, I’ll take care of it later”. We maybe even think, “That’s someone else’s job.” Because I love my church and am a member of it I own that responsibility. Driving by ignoring its condition bothers me. Ignoring our sin for any reason should bother us. That’s called conviction of the Holy Spirit. It’s really about our attitude to sin in our lives. 1 John 3:9 says, “No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” John is not saying we will be perfect because he just emphasized the need for repentance of sin in previous chapters. His point is our attitude toward God’s holiness, the separation that sin causes from God, our personal holiness towards God, and so on. Are we simply ok with the way sin trashes our lives? He writes to us in hopes we don’t sin again (1 John 2:1).   

Here is a memorable statement about sin I say often: admit it, quit it, and forget it. One of my favorite Scriptures about dealing with sin gives us great hope from the Lord: “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord” (Acts 3:19). Don’t let sin pile up! Deal with it in the moment if not daily because “In Him we have the forgiveness of sins” (Ephesians 1:7).

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Stephen and his wife Haley have called Arkansas home all of their lives. Stephen has served in several ministry roles over the last 25 years and as a lead pastor for the last 8 years. Stephen attended Williams Baptist College and earned a BA in Biblical Studies from Ouachita Baptist University, an MA, MDiv, and DMin in Christian Leadership and Pastoral Ministries from Liberty University. When not pastoring, Stephen enjoys running, cycling, reading, writing, camping, fishing, and spending time with his family.

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