Taking Out the Garbage Rev. Tony Cooke
Everyone’s trying to make it in life, aren’t they?
- A Woman’s Morning Prayer: “Dear Lord, so far today I am doing alright. I have not gossiped, lost my temper, been greedy, grumpy, nasty, selfish, or self-indulgent. I have not whined, grumbled, cursed, or eaten any chocolate. I have not over-charged on my credit card. However, I am getting out of bed in a few minutes, and I will need a lot more help after that. Amen.”
- Little Suzy expressed concern about making it in her prayer. She said: “And dear God, before I finish, I want you to take care of mommy, take care of daddy, take care of my sister and my brother – and please, God, take care of yourself, because if you don’t we’re all sunk. Amen.”
- And a man who was trying to get on top of things in his life confided, “My therapist told me the way to achieve true inner peace is to finish what I start. So far today, I have finished two bags of chips, and a chocolate cake. I feel better already.”
Chips and cake may sound like a good solution, but one of the great keys to truly making it—to living in victory as a believer—has to do with getting the garbage and things that are detrimental out of our lives. That brings us to the topic of this article… “Taking Out the Garbage.” Multiple scriptures address issues that believers need to eradicate (with the help of God) from their lives.
- Hebrews 12:1 – “…let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up.” (NLT)
- 2 Corinthians 7:1 – “…let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” (NKJV)
- Ephesians 4:22 – “…everything — and I do mean everything — connected with that old way of life has to go. It’s rotten through and through. Get rid of it!” (The Message)
- 2 Timothy 2:21 – “…whoever cleanses himself [from what is ignoble and unclean, who separates himself from contact with contaminating and corrupting influences] will [then himself] be a vessel set apart and useful for honorable and noble purposes, consecrated and profitable to the Master, fit and ready for any good work.” (Amplified)
What is the garbage that we need to make sure we get rid of? Let’s discuss a few of these items using G.A.R.B.A.G.E. as an acrostic.
G – Guilt
Guilt can be a cruel taskmaster, always reminding us and condemning us of sins we’ve committed or good things we failed to do. It is natural to feel guilty when we’ve done wrong, but it is supernatural to know that Jesus bore our guilt for us so that we can be free. Freedom from the tyranny of guilt begins when we believe that Jesus’ blood is greater than anything we’ve done wrong. As the old hymn says: “Grace, grace, God’s grace. Grace that doth pardon and cleanse within. Grace, grace, God’s grace. Grace that is greater than all my sin.”
A – Anger
We know that it’s possible to be angry without sinning (Eph. 4:26), but too often, unresolved anger ends up hurting people. Medical science has proven that angry people are at greater risk for health problems, and it doesn’t bless others, either. A lady once came to Billy Sunday and tried to rationalize her angry outbursts. “There’s nothing wrong with losing my temper,” she said. “I blow up, and then it’s all over.” “So does a shotgun,” Sunday replied, “and look at the damage it leaves behind!”
Closely connected to anger is resentment. One person said, “Resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” Comedian Buddy Hackett once said, “I’ve had a few arguments with people, but I never carry a grudge. You know why? While you’re carrying a grudge, they’re out dancing.” Choosing to forgive doesn’t mean that what the other person did was alright; it means that you’ve chosen to no longer be a victim. It means that you are setting yourself free from the wrong suffered.
B – Blame
John Killinger tells about the manager of a minor league baseball team who was so disgusted with the center fielder’s performance that he ordered him to the dugout and assumed the position himself. The first ball that came into center field took a bad hop and hit the manager in the mouth. The next one was a high fly ball, which he lost in the glare of the sun—until it bounced off his forehead. The third was a hard line drive that he charged with outstretched arms; unfortunately, it flew between his hands and smacked his eye. Furious, he ran back to the dugout, grabbed the center fielder by the uniform, and shouted, “You idiot! You’ve got the center field so messed up that even I can’t do a thing with it!”
Blameshifting—not taking personal responsibility—has been around a long time. Adam got the ball rolling when he blamed Eve (and God) for his involvement in their disobedience (Genesis 3:12). If we mess up, we need to ‘fess up, so we can move up! We’ll never move up if don’t take personal responsibility when it’s the appropriate thing to do.
A – Anxiety
The word “worry” is derived from an old Anglo-Saxon word meaning “to strangle or choke.” Isn’t that what worry and anxiety do? They choke the joy out of living. Corrie Ten Boom said,
“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow; it empties today of its strength.” Jeremy Taylor said, “It is impossible for that man to despair who remembers that his Helper is omnipotent.” Isn’t it wonderful that we serve a merciful God who has invited us to cast all of our cares upon Him?
G – Grumbling
Ouch! How often do we fall into this trap? It’s hard to grumble when you’re thankful, and it’s hard to be thankful when you’re grumbling. Mark Twain said, “Don’t complain and talk about all your problems. 80 percent of people don’t care, and the other 20 percent will think you deserve them.” Seriously though, Scripture is pretty clear on this one:
- Philippians 2:14 – “Do all things without complaining and disputing.”
- James 5:9 – “Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned.”
- 1 Peter 4:9 – “Be hospitable to one another without grumbling.”
E – Envy
I read about an individual who got a new bicycle when he was in fifth grade. He was thrilled about his new bike and was thoroughly enjoying it, until he rode down the street and found out that his neighbor had gotten a fancier bike. He lost his joy when he became envious of his friend’s nicer bike. Envy truly is a scourge! It causes us to focus on what we don’t have to the point that we miss seeing the blessing and taking pleasure in what we do have.
In speaking of the garbage we sometimes need to get out of our lives, it’s important to mention that we don’t want to focus too much on the negatives, nor do we always want to be on “excavations” to find the problems in our lives. Rather, we want to focus on Jesus. As we draw near to Him, obey Him, and act on His Word, the positive things we receive from Him will help drive out the negatives.
God’s ultimate goal for our lives is summed up well in what Paul said in 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24: “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.”
May your life be blessed and garbage-free!