Monday, June 18, 2012

The Stench of Sin

   Smells are very important to me.  I love the smell of candles and fresh flowers in the house.  I love the smell of laundry hanging on the line, a pot of coffee, cinnamon rolls in the oven.  I love the smell of my baby, even her stinky little toes.  I even remember the smell of my Grandma's aprons.  For the longest time after I was given her aprons, I refused to wash them for fear that I would forget her scent.  I loved the smell of my grandparents' farm.  In fact, I like the smell of farms in general.  Besides reminding me of Grandpa and Grandma's place, it's also a nice down-home kind of smell.  The smell of hay, clover, old barns, even animals is a comforting smell for me.  We live on a small farm, and we're surrounded by farmland. It's not only beautiful, but it smells like the country.

  Before our new neighbors planted their crops this spring, they were busy preparing the soil.  There was a lot of work that had to be done before the crops were sown like plowing and disking, but we were not prepared for the fertilizing stage of the process.  Now, like I've said, I like the smell of farms.  The smell from cow and horse farms does not bother me, but this was vastly different.  Our neighbor's father has a hog farm close by.  So, naturally, they decided to fertilize with hog manure.  It didn't take long for that horrid smell to find its way into our house.  We closed the windows, but as soon as we opened a door to walk outside, it quickly crept back into the house.  I didn't go outside unless I had to, but our poor children with animal chores had to endure it even longer.  Once when driving home, I found myself behind one of their manure filled trucks and it took everything within me to not lose my lunch.  Now, I'm not relating this experience to bad mouth my neighbors.  They are wonderful neighbors and fine Christians, but the smell reminded me of something else that should bother me more.

     Sin.  To God, sin is anything that separates us from Him. It has a stench that should turn our stomachs.  God hates sin.  It has an offensive odor.  When was the last time that I felt sick inside when I thought of sin?   I mean really sick.  It may be easy to feel that way for certain sins.  My heart breaks every time I think of the millions of unborn babies that have been murdered.  I am sad when people refuse to worship the Creator of the universe and then go out of their way to try and prove that He does not exist.  I see the evils of greed and those hungry for power.  I'm burdened when I hear of adultery and broken homes, but am I truly sick when I hear these things?  Do I lie awake at night praying for those around me, for our nation, for my family?  Am I sensitive to the smell of sin in my own life?  Does that smell make me want to run to the Lord and repent when I have wronged Him?  Perhaps, I am getting used to the smell.  When the neighbors were fertilizing for those few days, as bad as it was, we began to get used to it.  It was kind of like the "new normal".  When the rain came, the smell died down some, but it was still there.  Then, one day, the plow came and we realized that horrible stench was gone.  Maybe that's what it takes in our spiritual lives.  I think my heart could use a good plowing about now.  Oh, I know when I sin.  I do repent, but many times, I get so used to my sin that I don't go to God about it.  Yes, I belong to Him.  I'm a child of God, but as long as I'm in this temporary shell, I'm going to sin.  The question is, am I truly disgusted when I dishonor Him?  Do I understand that those little sins, those bad habits that I've developed grieve Him?  Those cutting remarks to my husband.  Flirting with an immoral thought.  Speaking in an impatient tone with a child.  Complaining about the laundry again.  Do I really want to love God with all of my heart?  Am I willing to have Him plow those areas in my life that I've grown accustomed to and to change my heart?   I want my life to be a life of sweet smelling service and devotion to Him.  I pray that God won't let me stay comfortable with the smell of unconfessed sin.  And, when I come to Him again and again, I will know His love and forgiveness and can share the knowledge of the Gospel with those around me.  That is the sweetest smell of all.

"But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.  For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing."  II Corinthians 2:14-15