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My Neighbor's Trash
by Tina Leonard
6/22/2008 / Devotionals
Ok, so last week I came home from work and pulled up in the driveway. Many times I find that I can deal with little annoyances and things that are frustrating easily, but this day I guess I had reached my threshold.
You see we live in a metropolitan neighborhood where our houses are pretty close together, but not too close where you can't tell where your yard separates from your neighbor's yard. So, when I pulled up and seen their trash sitting on our freshly mowed grass next to their driveway I about flipped out. I thought my head was going to start spinning in circles or something. I was ranting and raving like the old guy in grumpy old men. After I reached our front door I started laughing at myself out loud. I thought to myself "Gee wiz what kind of witness am I?"
A few days later my husband had been working a lot of overtime and people on our street tend to have the inability to park in their driveways. Unfortunately this makes it very difficult to back out of our driveway without having to back in and out ninety times to avoid a collision with a parked car. Being a little sleepier than normal my out of character cutie gets up walking around the house mumbling this that and the other rubbing his eyes. I said, "Honey what's up?" He stopped at the counter and looked at me and said, "You know I would like to get a tank and just drive down the street nailing every car that is sitting out there one day." I was like, "Whatever you are tripping." I giggled and told him about the episode I had with the trash earlier that week.
What made this ever funnier to me was that evening on my way home from work I had heard a teacher on the radio that I listen to a lot talking about how we are all seed planters and not only do our mouths plant seeds but our actions do so even more. He said when you are a Christian and a neighbor parks somewhere you don't like, to make sure that you wave to them the next morning with a smile. He said if your neighbors trash somehow winds up in your yard don't shun them because of their inconsideration instead offer them a hand next time before the trash runs and help them take it out to the correct spot. That way you have a window of opportunity to speak to them about the Lord as well as showing them the correct spot to put their trash without saying a word about it.
You see when it comes down to it, in the end the trash gets picked up anyways. Not only that but when you keep showing someone how to do something the right way, eventually they catch on. I told my husband about the sermon and he started laughing.
You see each week we pay others to come by and pick up the trash that builds up in our houses each week. We put it in bags close them up and set them out at the edge of the curb and a truck drives by and picks up all our garbage. Have you ever wondered what would happen if no one was paid to pick up our trash? What would happen if there were no landfills? What would happen if no one ever invented trash bags? What would happen if all that garbage was scattered around everywhere? Our cities would look awful and our houses would be filthy.
I Corinthians 7:23
"Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men."
You see when God sent His son Jesus to die on the cross He became our trash man. Fortunately for us, the debt was not one that we have to pay each week. God paid it once in full! However as Christians we still have trash that we have to take to the curb of the cross. We have to bag all that crap up that gets into our lives and comes between the cross and our neighbor. You see the Word of God instructs us to be walking epistles and a light that shines forth in a dark place. If we approach situations the same way others who don't know the Lord do, are we not false witnesses? Claiming to know the Son of God and yet being "far from Him" in our hearts though we speak of Him from our mouth? (Isaiah 29:13; Matthew 15:18; Mark 7:6)
I Peter 3:4
"But [let it be] the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, [even the ornament] of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price."
You see Christ was a meek and quiet spirit who was a great price that God paid so that our trash might be taken out of sight each time we take it the curb. Problem is a lot of times our bags are like the ones that you buy at the dollar store. They are made of the strength that we try to muster to rid ourselves of the garbage in our spirits and they always get tears and holes in them causing things to fall out and stuff to drip through the bottom. God wants us to surrender that stuff in hefty bags and make sure that there are no openings at the top so that nothing can get out. He wants our hearts to be hidden in that ornament of Christ so that our spirits will be incorruptible. The Bible mentions in Acts 5:15 that people used to take the sick into the streets on beds and couches in hopes that simply the shadow of Peter passing by would overshadow them. I find it amazing that someone carried the ornament of Christ so strongly that his faith radiated from him. If we could catch a glimpse of that faith in our lives today can you imagine the impact for Christ we would have in our society today?
I Peter 3: 8
"Finally, [be ye] all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, [be] pitiful, [be] courteous:"
If we as Christians could grasp the mentality that God wants us to possess people would be longing to find what it is that we have. Instead a lot of times people are pushed off from Christ because of those who claim to know Him as Lord and Savoir. You see there is so much trash in our home spiritually that it's cluttering up the space in our hearts for that priceless ornament to shine forth. It is especially difficult to speak of the love of God to a lost and bickering world, when the body of Christ seems to be so lost and bickering itself. We must love one another despite our differences and love each other regardless of disagreements or doctrinal issues. The Bible instructs us to seek out one's own salvation with fear and trembling. The only time we should address our brethren is out of love when we see him falling into the snares of the enemy. If his salvation is not threatened than we are called to be courteous and compassionate and directed to stay away from disputing of the Word. However, discernment is of utmost importance here because we must be sensitive to the spirit of God and how He leads us to minister to others. We cannot allow others to be misled but at the same time we must know how to minister to others so that the seed is planted in a way that it will be prosperous. Though many will say that God says His Word will not return void, I have heard many people trying to witness to others who are not speaking "His Word" but they are speaking their own thoughts and when that happens you can push people away from the truth of salvation and a relationship with God out of your own selfish ambition.
I Peter 3:9
"Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing."
It's funny as God has been dealing with me about this issue, it has taken some time to get me to actually sit down and begin to write it. I guess because it is such a difficult subject to talk about. Nobody wants to face their own shortcomings especially when it comes to serving God because we all have so many. As I pulled up in my driveway today guess what tomorrow is? It's my neighbor's trash day, so lo and behold there sat their trash cans in our yard again. As I put my car in park I looked at my step daughter and I said, "Look, there they did it again..argh." At that moment in the back of my mind, ok so not so far back in mind.I decided come our trash day I am going to put our trash in their yard, and see how they like it! Unfortunately if I do that I will be putting up a fence or a barrier within' myself and I will be unable to hear the spirit of God in regards to my neighbor because I will be acting in a disobedient manner to the instruction of the Word. However, if I don't act of the nature of man I will inherit the blessing of a relationship where the opportunity will arise for me to witness to them on a level that will be in friendly conversation.
Isn't that just like all of us though? We want to get back at those who despitefully hurt us and use and abuse us. We want to get even somehow with all the stuff they have done to us even though we try to help everyone as much as we can and we try to be a person's friend. The Bible says in Matthew 5:44 that we are supposed to love one another and pray for our enemies and those who persecute us. Now my neighbors are not purposefully trying to upset me so that situation is a bit different but I was just trying to use that as an example.
I Peter 3:10-11
"For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it."
I have read this scripture many times often amused by it, but tonight I am looking at it with a different perspective and it no longer amuses me, it breaks my heart. I think about the leaders of our country and the leaders of our businesses in America and the Hollywood movie stars and our military government and I think to myself it is no wonder America is not at peace. It is no wonder gas prices are so high. It is no wonder kids are killing kids. It is no wonder parents are killing their children and vice versa. It is no wonder poverty exists in the same plain as Donald Trump does. How many Americans love life? How many Americans actually refuse to speak evil and speak truth at all times? How many Americans truly seek peace and follow it? It is burdensome for me to watch presidential debates and million dollar funding because a man or a woman that can openly bash others choices or lifestyles in the land of the free and home of the brave is a hypocrite. They stand up there degrading the very essence of another persons' life instead of telling us what they are going to do and how they have arrived where they are.
I can only scratch the surface of this iceberg in a blog but think about it. How can we consciously promote degradation of character as being the trademark of the winner of the nomination as who we will choose to run our nation? In my opinion I would love to see someone humble and sincere who will not promise something to our nation that will never be possible by mans precepts, which is peace. The only way our nation will ever achieve peace is if Gods people turn from their wicked ways and humble themselves and pray and seek His face then He will hear from Heaven and heal thier land.
I Peter 3:11
"For the eyes of the Lord [are] over the righteous, and his ears [are open] unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord [is] against them that do evil."
The Lord has the ability to watch over the righteous and those who are called according to His purpose. His Word says that many are the afflictions of the righteous but that He would deliver us out of them all. I don't know about any of you but since I have surrendered my life to the Lord, regardless of my shortcomings and my mistakes I have faced many difficult times. Many times these trials and heartaches are caused by the actions of others.
I think the hardest part of these tests are not being able to respond to the situations and circumstances the way we used to before we got saved. There have been so many times where if Christ was not my core someone would have gotten a mouth full and/or a fist full from the person I used to be. Temperance has been a big part of my transformation and it has been very difficult for me to allow certain scriptures to sink into my spirit and allow those scriptures to control my actions more so than my feelings and attitude. A few of those scriptures are
" Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head."
"If I whet my glittering sword, and mine hand take hold on judgment; I will render vengeance to mine enemies, and will reward them that hate me." (I wrote a blog last year sometime called "Glittering Sword" off of this scripture.)
"Let them be ashamed and confounded together that seek after my soul to destroy it; let them be driven backward and put to shame that wish me evil."
"Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but [rather] give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance [is] mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.
I Peter 3:12-16
"And who [is] he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good? But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy [are ye]: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and [be] ready always to [give] an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ."
Why do so many people misunderstand Christ? In the past I have often wondered why it was always so difficult to talk to people about Christ. I often questioned God about different tests and trials that I would face after I surrendered my life to Him. Many times I would get angry and argue with God. I often would search myself and try to see if there was something wrong with what I was doing or how I was living my life. I used to be very critical of myself to the point where I was almost "super spiritual". I don't know if you have ever heard the term "Too spiritual to be any worldly good" well I defined that with my life for awhile. But I think that as new Christians many go through that phase on their way to maturity. It's a growing process.
So today I started thinking about why I gripe so much about my neighbor's trash. I mean I should be thankful that they are throwing it away right? How much more upset would I be if they let it set next to their house and my driveway if they just kept letting it stock pile and build up? What would happen if I had company over and the stench was so bad it began to make the inside of our house smell? That is when I realized why God had used this to minister to me.
You see, on that cross God sent the "trash collector". Many people continue to claim to be Christians yet they never take their trash out. They continue drinking and carousing and fornicating and cussing and carrying on in a sinful nature that does not glorify God in any way at all. They misrepresent the body of Christ and the stench an odor of their sin has carried over into the "house of God". The aroma of false witnesses has lingered through the churches, into the homes of professing believers and even into the Pastoral calling and Evangelical "profession".
You see God doesn't care what corner of the cross you kneel at as long as you take your trash with you. He doesn't care if it is on the right or the left or directly in front. He also doesn't require you pay a monthly fee, because the service has already been paid in full. Think of your sin as trash because if it never gets taken out it begins to stink up "your house" and "your house" is the dwelling place of God. Maybe that is why our "righteousness stinks in the nostrils of God".
"But we are all as an unclean [thing], and all our righteousnesses [are] as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away."
Don't forget we are all a work in progress and I don't think we should be concerned with where our neighbor or brethren is in ridding themselves of sin, when we have enough of our own trash to worry about. However, it doesn't hurt to have a relationship and learn from each other and grow from the insight we gain from that relationship maybe you can help them take their trash out..or maybe they don't even know where they are supposed to put it.
Remember the Bible tells us we are to crucify our flesh daily and to renew our minds with the transforming power of Christ. Continually at least once a week after reviewing your personality and your actions through the week take your trash out. There is always something remaining in us no matter how large or small that is not glorifying to the Lord. From now on when you are taking your garbage to the curb don't forget to analyze your spiritual garbage.
My name is Tina Leonard. I have been writing my entire life, but it wasn't until I accepted Christ in 1998 that I began to write for the edification of the body and to bring the rightful Glory to His Kingdom. Feel free to visit my website at www.myspace.com/christisking2.
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