Friday, April 21, 2023

The Stinky Trash Juice Principle

Suggested Reading: Matthew 15:10-20

I had a car once that I would use to take trash to the dump. Behind the second row of seats was a carpeted storage area like you might find in an SUV or a station wagon. On one particular trip to the dump, one of the trash bags leaked some nasty smelling juice that soaked into the carpet and made the car stink to high heaven. I tried air fresheners and Febreeze but the stench always returned until the day I actually cleaned the carpet and got the last vestiges of that nasty trash juice removed. Only once the source of the smell was dealt with did the stench disappear.

In Matthew 15, Jesus responded to a group of Pharisees who were concerned about the washing habits of his disciples by calling a crowd together and telling the people that they were defiled by the things that came out of their mouths and not by what went into them. The concept was a foreign concept, even to Jesus's disciples, who were so confused by the statement they asked Jesus to explain the "parable." Jesus answered, “Anything you eat passes through the stomach and then goes into the sewer. But the words you speak come from the heart—that’s what defiles you. For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander. These are what defile you. Eating with unwashed hands will never defile you" (NLT, Matthew 15:17-20).

What Jesus was communicating was the Stinky Trash Juice Principle. When your life has a stench that comes out in the form of sinful behaviors and words, you can't eliminate the stench by trying to cover it up with rules and regulations that will make you more acceptable. Rather, those words and behaviors indicate that you have a heart problem and that stench - those behaviors and words - will keep returning until the heart is cleaned out. If you have sinful habits, you can't change them with superficial behaviors; you have to eliminate the source of the habit: the stain on your heart. Whether you love the wrong things, fear the wrong things, trust the wrong things, or have unforgiveness toward someone who hurt you, those heart conditions must be dealt with.

If you find yourself repeating the same sins over and over again, creating a new set of rules for yourself isn't going to help the problem. Creating rules is like hanging up an air freshener but never cleaning the carpet. Rather, search your heart. Determine where the behavior is coming from and seek God's guidance in fixing your heart problem. Don't cover up the stench in your life. Remove its source.

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