Deodorant for Spiritual Stink
Most women wouldn’t intentionally leave the house without deodorant. But, I’m sure we’ve all experienced that one time where just as you were about to arrive somewhere you remembered (or smelled) that you failed to put on deodorant.
“This is humiliating! What will people think of me? Surely they will assume that I never bathe and I must be some sort of nature loving freak opposed to modern inventions.”
It’s very likely that even though you forgot to put on deodorant, you never actually reached the stage of pure stinky-ness and no one even noticed. Yet, you fretted over this slip in your memory like it was the linchpin to your entire character.
We care a lot about our physical appearance and maintenance, maybe even obsess. But, our spiritual odor is so much more important. It has eternal repercussions if we do not properly care for our spiritual nature.
When others are around us they shouldn’t be cringing, keeping distance or whispering over our foul attitude. A spiritual stink can be anything from complaining, gossiping, self-righteousness or any prideful behavior. Sadly, many times we can turn others away from Christ because our thoughts, words and actions are not loving and kind. We fail to embrace every moment as an opportunity to bring glory to God through a humble and compassionate spirit.
You may be thinking, “I’m so glad I don’t stink. I work really hard at being as loving and joyful as I can all the time. With the Lord’s help, of course!”
If so, I challenge you to consider the scenarios below. Oftentimes, we can think we are rockin’ right along in our sanctification but we are failing to look at the whole picture. Sin is tricky like that. Paul’s command to the Philippians to work out their salvation with fear and trembling is one we, too, must obey. Constantly, we are to ask the Lord to show us where our sin is and plead with Him to help us conquer it.
Here are a few probing questions to help you determine if your pride is causing you to stink.
- You’re having dinner with some new friends. One of them goes on and on about how fabulous the Beth Moore daily devotional is. Do you respond by speaking the truth in love (Ephesians4:15) and letting your gentle spirit be known (Philippians 4:5)? Or do you roll your eyes and smirk and proceed to tell them everything bad you’ve heard about Beth Moore?
- You’ve decided to let someone else take over the women’s ministry at your church. The new leader has chosen a curriculum perfectly suited for her first time leading. It’s a Bible study guide, fairly shallow yet theologically sound. Are your thoughts honorable, pure and lovely (Philippians 4:8)? Are you rejoicing or battling thoughts of “I would have chosen…” or “I can’t believe she chose that!” or “I’ll sit out this semester and do a deeper study on my own.”
- A high school friend posted on Facebook about how the Lord changed her life at a Hillsong concert. In other posts, she shares YouTube videos from Bethel music. Do you immediately have compassion for her lack of teaching on music or are you busy writing up a 20 page Facebook thesis on the errors of their lyrics/beliefs?
- It’s late, you’ve had a hard day and you decide to check your email before crashing on your fluffy pillow. You are intrigued by an email with the subject line “theological question” from a fellow church member. The question is in regards to speaking in tongues and she is questioning if the church holds the right position. She has been reading on some Internet sites and is now feeling confused. Do you feel snarky and mumble under your breath “Seriously?! Didn’t she agree to our doctrinal statement when she became a member? What is she doing randomly searching the Internet??”
If your blood pressure went up or you felt any conviction at all reading these questions, you may have a small (or big) problem with pride. Pride manifesting itself in the form of a theological jerk.
1 Peter 5:5 tells us that ALL believers are to “clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
Is Your Pride Giving You Spiritual B.O.?
Ladies, none of us would ever intentionally walk into a room of people reeking like onions. So why in the world would we intentionally let our spiritual aroma be on par with the men’s port-a-potty??
Just like you have to care for your physical body there are steps we should take to care for our spiritual nature.
Responding with humility does not come naturally. For some, it can take years of heartfelt prayer, counsel and diligent Bible study to chip away at the sin of pride.
Pride is one of those sins that has its fingers in everything. Usually, if you have to ask, “Lord, why am I like this?” It’s probably pride. Why do I snap at my husband? Pride. Why do I dress for other’s approval? Pride. Why do I hide the truth about my less-than-perfect kids? Pride. Why do I furiously clean the house before guests come over? Pride. Why do I smile with clenched teeth as I’m threatening my children at the grocery store? Pride.
I could go on and on. Identifying this sin - this stink - is only the first step. If we acknowledge that we have a piece of glass in our foot and fail to remove it we end up causing a lot more problems in our life than if we would have just removed the glass right away!
If you’re tired of being a jerk, do something about it.
The first thing we all should do is go to the Lord in prayer asking Him to reveal to us our sins. Just as David did in Psalm 139, ask God to search your heart and seek out all unrighteousness.
Do you trust that your sin is not beyond the help of the Lord God? He is faithful to forgive and restore!
Deodorant for Spiritual Stink
Begin by reading 5 passages every morning on pride and humility. There are many places throughout Scripture that command us to be humble and warn us against being prideful.
Cement in your mind the way in which the Lord desires you to walk. A concordance or Google search will bring up dozens of verses. A few examples are: Ephesians 4:2; Philippians 2:3; Proverbs 8:13, 11:2, 22:4; Romans 12:16; James 3:13, 4:10; Colossians 3:12; Micah 6:8
Pray constantly for the Lord to deliver you from the chains of pride. Set mental reminders about when to pray. For example, every time you see yourself in a mirror commit to praying about your sin. Ask the Lord to make your reflection more like Christ.
Compliment people. A lot. Get out of your self-focused box and start seeing the good gifts in others. In Ken Sande’s book The Peace Maker he suggests making a list of all the things you love about someone when you are mad at him or her. This is a good exercise when we are struggling to encourage or have patience with others.
Serve people. Begin to look for opportunities to sacrifice your time for another. Again, this takes the focus off yourself and allows you to look into the lives of others.
Seek prayer from an elder’s wife or fellow church member. Being honest about your sin issue is the first step in humility!
Dive into a study on God’s mercy and grace! Begin to grasp how great a sinner you were and yet Jesus Christ DIED for you. There is NO ROOM for self-righteousness when you realize how filthy you were and how much you are loved.
The reward for diligent confession, prayer, study and love to others is a humble heart.