Yeah, I know. Kind of a gross title isn’t it. But this was my lesson this morning and as I was thinking about how disgusting phlegm is and using that as a title I thought that it was appropriate. After all, sin is pretty gross and disgusting when you think about it. If we start thinking of sin as something we’re comfortable with, something that doesn’t make us a little sick to our stomachs then we are in grave danger of falling deeper into it.
This morning, I woke up with a sore throat. It happens from time to time. We’re here in the piney woods of east Texas in the spring so that means pollen and that means allergies. There are times when my head gets all congested with stuff and then I develop some sort of infection and that always gives me a sore throat. How does this relate to sin you’re asking..I’m getting to that one.
As I was standing in my hot shower coughing and blowing my nose trying to dislodge whatever it is stuck up there causing me so much discomfort God dropped in my head the idea that this phlegm was just like sin in my life. You see I was feeling some pain and discomfort that was being caused by something in my life that didn’t belong. My body isn’t supposed to have that phlegm and infection stuck up in my head so my body was trying to get rid of it. But getting rid of it was unpleasant. I hate when this happens. I know how to get rid of it and I hate doing the work. I just want it to go away. I’m talking about the phlegm here.
Here’s what I know from past experience. My throat will hurt and continue to hurt and hurt worse each day until I take the time to do the unpleasant and somewhat disgusting process of eliminating it. What I’ve found works for me is the hottest steamiest shower I can stand. That’s the good part. I love a hot shower. But while I’m in the shower, I have to work with my body blowing my nose and coughing and trying to dislodge the infectious glob of goop. Once I cough up that little bugger my sore throat instantly disappears. I’m no doctor but my assumption is that my body is trying to remove the infection by creating more fluid which drains down the back of my throat all night causing the sore throat. That combined with me probably breathing through my mouth all night due to the stuffy head just creates a condition that gives me the pain of a sore throat.
And as I thought about that process I realized how much like sin this was. You see sin is not supposed to exist in our lives either. Sometimes, we get comfortable with it and let it stay there because it isn’t causing us too much trouble. Sure I was having some stuffiness but no headache, no sore throat so I ignored it. But just like my stuffy head always leads to a sore throat sin will always sit there growing silently in the darkness of our soul taking over more and more until it shows up and causes some pain in our lives. You see, sin will always cause pain. It may be the pain of broken relationships, the pain of guilt, the pain of comparing ourselves to others. There are so many types of sin but all of the sins I’ve ever met have lead to some sort of painful experience eventually.
And just like my phlegm, I can try to ignore it and pretend it isn’t there but eventually it will come to the point that I have to choose to either live with the pain until it becomes something really nasty I can no longer avoid or I can choose to do the work and remove it. And just like that stubborn infectious phlegm, removing the sin isn’t always pleasant. Confessing our sins, admitting our faults, realizing that we might be to blame for things that have gone wrong in our past is not pleasant by any means. Trust me, I’ve done this process many, many times as well and I always dread it and try to avoid it as long as possible. But….just like that phlegm once I stop and take the time to cough up my sin and spit it out the pain usually goes away and I feel free again.
At least, free for a while. You see I keep having sore throats. It doesn’t matter if I’m in good shape. It doesn’t matter if I eat right and exercise. There is always some pollen, something in the air that is going to get me. I also know that if I take Benadryl every night at bedtime that I usually keep my allergies at bay and don’t have these problems and I also know that at the first signs of spring when I start to feel the least bit stuffy if I take a daytime antihistamine that I can usually avoid the sore throat. I also know that if the pollen is winning this year and I do get stuffy that if I will take some guaifenesin and drink lots of water that the stuff will wash out of my head before it starts getting infected. But here’s the thing. I “know” all these things and yet so many times, I don’t do them. I might skip my Benadryl because I didn’t want to get the bottle and open it because I was too tired that night. Or I might not want to take the guaifenesin because I don’t enjoy the drainage is causes. Yes, I know that’s what it is supposed to do, but all that extra nose blowing, who has time for that! So I get lazy and I let things build up until I suffer the pain for my lack of diligence.
And sin is exactly the same way. Maybe you are too tired to read your Bible at night, maybe you’ve avoided going to church because you have so much to do that you just want to spend one day at home. Maybe you haven’t been praying daily or confessing your sins or being accountable to someone in your life who helps you see those sins before they get out of control. Just like me and my phlegm, sin can trap you just as easily when we ignore doing those things we should be doing it will silently grow until it causes you some pain.
And when I finally take the time to cough up that little something it is always some ugly chunk of nastiness usually tinged with a hint of blood. Isn’t that a perfect example of sin…some ugly chunk of nastiness covered by Jesus’ blood!
So this spring and every spring as we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus maybe allergy season that usually comes with that same spring is a good time for us to consider the sin in our lives and spend the time it takes to cough some of it up. I know I’ll be reminded every allergy season to examine my life. How about you?