…a line from The Coasters rock ‘n roll hit, “Yakety Yak” (1958). We haul garbage out Wednesday mornings. We’ve forgotten a few times, once when we had twenty-five people sleeping over. Trash overflowed like crazy. Neighbors thought we were. Once we were late—and I chased the truck in our van filled with garbage. Not real effective. No garbage—no need to put it out. Never happened at the Anderson’s.
Do you have regular trash collection at your home? How about in your heart? Any weeks when it accumulates and smells putrid? I returned from vacation once and found maggots in our trash.
- unconfessed sin that festers. Read about its affect on the body (Psalm 32:3-5).
- destructive emotions like resentment, hostility, anything alien to the soul, like cancer is to the body.
- an old newspaper, a banana peel, or anger. It may have served a purpose yesterday, but leave it overnight and like manna it rots. Dump it. Cain didn’t. Instead of taking the garbage out, he took his brother out (Genesis 4:1-7). Sad!
Ever discuss what constitutes trash? What the Spirit calls garbage we may hold onto. Scripture says to “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles” (12:1). We might have reasons for not dumping trash. It’s hard to repent, and many of us are out of practice. Some prefer living in denial (“I don’t have any garbage”), or make excuses (“everyone’s got it” or “that’s just who I am”). Trash thrives in the darkness. We hide it in the basement—or deep in our soul.
GARBAGE NEEDS TO BE COLLECTED…
- Because of self-deception. “If we say we have no garbage, we deceive ourselves.” Others can smell it. Open your mouth and out comes cynicism, blame, or self-rejection. I didn’t realize that I still had garbage from seminary years before. It had not occurred to me that I needed to forgive a pastor. Once I pleaded with a young adult to dump the garbage that had accumulated in his life. He said that he couldn’t, and depression followed him around like a bad friend.
- Because trash can destroy us. Sharon hated her mom, and friend that dragged her forward for prayer. When I asked her if she wanted to get rid of garbage, she said, “I have to—it’s killing me.” Unforgiveness left untreated torments the soul (Matthew 18). If we have the symptoms—depression, passivity, inability to relate with others—look for garbage. Ask friends to help you.
- Because we don’t want trash on our minds. The more you dump it, the less you think about it. We are Christ-centered, cross-focused. Better to be Christ-conscious than sin-conscious. How? Dump the trash!
WE TAKE OUT GARBAGE REGULARLY
The early church practiced garbage collection: “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed” (James 5:16). They discovered that walking in the light strengthened fellowship (I John 1:8) and released healing. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9). We may assume that we are to confess to God. The context suggests confessing to one another.
Trash containers are collected weekly, but trash should be emptied daily. I use an acrostic to help guide me through my daily prayer (PRAY—praise, repentance, asking, yielding).
“Great, one more thing to do.” No, the gospel says, “Done,” not, “Do.” Jesus said, “It is finished.” He became the toxic waste dump of all humanity. He took out the garbage, all of it. Our job is easy compared to His. I can deal with garbage, because God has already declared me righteous in Christ and will finish what He has started. “Faithful is he who has called you, and HE WILL DO IT!”