Saturday, February 20, 2016
This is an ugly picture of trash we saw when we stopped at a pretty beach on a port call on the island of Jamaica a few years ago. Beside the parking lot trash was piled in an ugly heap. Of course, I had to snap a picture, knowing that someday I would find a spiritual message in such a visual - today is that day. I'm reminded of a truth written by Paul in Romans 7:
"For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. / For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice."
Haven't we all felt that way? In fact, we feel that way a lot more than we think we should as Christians, and that can be very frustrating. Did you detect more than a little frustration in Paul's voice as he wrote that seemingly convoluted truth? I too get extremely frustrated with my own "self" at times and feel like saying with Paul, "O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?"
Ugly trash (symbolizing our "ugly sins") is not something that should be defiling a pretty little beach (symbolizing our redeemed Christian lives). A trash man should come, shovel the filth into a truck, and take it away to be burned. Likewise, the sins that so easily beset us should be brought before our redeeming God, shoveled away through forgiveness, and our hearts cleansed.
Would more trash be dropped on this beach? Yes, of course, but if the trash was disposed of soon after it was dropped, there would be no piles of ugly litter to contend with. One or two pieces of trash are easily handled, this pile is a real problem. God wants us to confess our sins quickly and regularly, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness" 1 John 1:9.
Even so, Paul's verses in Romans 7 are still an issue with us. As long as we live on a sinful earth in a human body, there will be that frustrating pull of sin. Only God can lift us from the muck and give us victory -- not to be perfect and never sin, but to be forgiven when we do. Paul also encourages us in the next chapter with this truth: "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit" 8:1.
We are not perfect, and trash will fall into our lives, but praise God, if we confess, He will take it away as if it were never there. Praise God from whom all blessings flow.