Taking the Trash Out

The system of waste removal has drastically changed over the years. I recall how we would simply put all the trash into one trash bag. We would then take that trash bag and empty it into a big metal trash can in the alley. My brother and I would watch as the trash man would come down the alley. We could hardly wait for him to pull the level and watch the trash be digested by this metal mouth.

In this day and time, trash is now separated. It is then put into these large containers – brown for normal trash and green for recyclables. On Thursday, I have the responsibility to drag these large containers to the edge of the street for removal. The bottom line, however, is that while the method has changed, trash must be taken out and removed.

This seems to be the gist of what Paul is admonishing the church at Colossae. Listen to his words: “Set your minds on what is above, not on what is on the earth. Therefore, put to death whatever in you is worldly: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desire, and greed, which is idolatry. But now you must also put away all the following: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and filthy language from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his practices and have put on the new man, who is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of his Creator (3:2,5,8-10 HCSB).”

There are two different trash receptacles: the first canister in verse 5 and the second in verse 8. I think this passage is really onto something. This is because most Christians would rank verse 5 as the most destructive. And, honestly sexual misconduct and greed does ruin families and ministries. However, Paul introduces the second canister with the words: “But now you must also.” The second list is more destructive because it cannot be seen. This trash manifests and matures itself in the secrecy of our own hearts.

I remember staying at a friends house and there was the most horrific smell. We searched everywhere and could not find the source. Then, after several days, we turned on the garbage disposal. It would not work. After disconnecting it, we discovered that the foul odor was from food that had not been disposed because the garbage disposal was not working properly. This odor was the result of trash that could not be seen but after days could be smelt.

Today, I want to challenge each of us to heed the instructions of Paul: “Set your mind on what is above, not on what is on the earth.” This means, taking a hard look and removing any reality television, text messages, emails, websites, relationships, or attitudes that would not be evidenced in the life of Christ. We must intentionally take the trash out of our lives not only in verse 5; but, more importantly in verse 8. 

As we come to the end of this year and prepare to be Great Commission Christians in 2013, let us each begin by redirecting our attention and focus. “Set your mind on what is above, not on what is on the earth.”

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