Wednesday 25 April 2012

What a load of old rubbish!

This is a copy of my church magazine article for May 2012

What a load of old rubbish!

I’m hoping that these are not the words after one of my sermons!  However, they are my words I and my family prepare to move in the summer.  After eight years in the same home, we have accumulated quite a lot of stuff.  We are trying to make decisions about what we know longer need, and what there will be little point in taking with us when we go.  To be honest, there are a couple of boxes that came with us when we moved to the city that we haven’t got around to opening yet!  Do we really have to keep what was inside?

So we are trying to get rid of the rubbish, and I am expecting to make quite a number of trips to the tip!  What is worth saving will be sold or given away. 

All of this gets me thinking.  How often do we hang on to rubbish in our lives?  How long do we harbour a grudge long after God has forgiven?  How much do we cling on unhelpfully to sin that should have been dealt with?  In 1 Corinthians 6, the apostle Paul talks about Christians who were taken legal action against one another, such were the things of which they could not let go.  He has stern but loving words for them:

‘Don't you realize that this is not the way to live? Unjust people who don't care about God will not be joining in his kingdom. Those who use and abuse each other, use and abuse sex, use and abuse the earth and everything in it, don't qualify as citizens in God's kingdom. A number of you know from experience what I'm talking about, for not so long ago you were on that list. Since then, you've been cleaned up and given a fresh start by Jesus, our Master, our Messiah, and by our God present in us, the Spirit.’  (1 Cor 6:9-11, The Message)

We need to remember the sinful lives from which we have come, but without going back.  We need to realize the grace-filled lives to which God calls us and welcomes us.  From time to time, the rubbish can begin to accumulate again.  Perhaps we need a spiritual spring-clean, getting rid of what is unhelpful and developing what is good?  The ways to do this are time-honoured, but bear repeating:
  • ·      Examine your life for signs of sin.  If you are brave, ask a trusted friend if there is any aspect of your character where unhelpful words and behaviour is creeping in.
  • ·      Confess to God and seek his renewed forgiveness.  Get rid of the rubbish!
  • ·      Ask God to fill you afresh with his Spirit – the Spirit of Jesus.
  • ·      Keep filling your mind with helpful things – ‘whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable’ (Phil 4:8-9).  The Bible is the best place to find these things, so keep reading it!
  • ·      Keep fellowship with your church, so that you can encourage others and be encouraged, in our walk with God.

Will you take time out today to deal with the rubbish?