Lately when we head outside, an awful stench sometimes fills the air. You see, we live down the street from a major pepper processing plant.
I don’t remember it being this strong in past autumns, and usually we only smelled the odor when we drove by the plant after leaving the house.
But this year our noses seem to get attacked as soon as we walk out of our house. Sometimes it’s so bad that it makes me gag.
A few weeks ago, I was talking to the girls at the dinner table. We were discussing some of their friends at school. As we discussed one particularly close friend she has had since elementary school, Kennedi mentioned that he identified as gay. Then she felt the need to explain, “But mom, he still says he believes in God and the Bible and nothing has changed.”
I wanted to seize the opportunity to have this important conversation. In the past few years as they’ve transitioned from elementary into middle and high school, they have shared that different friends and classmates are identifying as LGBTQ.
It is important to me that my daughters do not judge people or treat anyone differently. I’ve always tried to instill showing the love of God to everyone, no matter how different they may be from the girls.
But in some Christian communities, same-sex relationships are somehow viewed differently than other sins mentioned in the Bible. Yes, it is mentioned in the Bible, regardless of what one’s interpretation of whether it is a sin or not. It is a personal conviction, based upon each believer’s personal relationship with God. I dare not judge.
Romans 1:26-27 is a common scripture referred to in the discussion of same-sex relationships. But if you keep reading down to verses 29-31 there are other behaviors called out: wickedness, fornication (sex with ANYONE you’re not married to), evil, greed, depravity, envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice, gossip, slander, God-haters, insolence, arrogance, boastfulness, disobedience to their parents…
With a list like that, I’m not one to point the finger at anyone who exhibits a way of life found in those scriptures. If I’m being honest, some of my past and present indiscretions are found on that list as well. Between me and God, I’ve overcome some, but for others I’m still a work in progress.
I think it would be quite difficult to find someone that has never displayed any of those actions. It’s another reminder of this truth that we find in our Playbook:
All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23 NKJV
Back to my dinner table: I responded to Kennedi that just because he likes boys doesn’t mean he didn’t believe in God. And that there were plenty of other sins called out in the Bible that people commit even though they claimed to believe in God.
One of the girls indicated that all sin was bad to God, right? I responded yes, and that I didn’t believe God categorized degrees of sin. I further explained that when they disobeyed me, it was as offensive to God as any other sin that they may think is much worse, like murder. Although society judged sins differently, all sin separated us from God.
To drive my point home, I thought about those smelly peppers. I explained that the pepper plant down the street probably processed different types of peppers – red, yellow, green, and orange. I told them to imagine that each type of pepper was a different sin. Maybe sex outside of marriage was an orange pepper, lying could be a red pepper, and stealing might be a yellow pepper.
I further explained that as we smelled the air, we couldn’t distinguish which type of peppers were distinctly contributing to that terrible aroma we were subjected to almost every day. We just knew the scent came from peppers.
In that same manner, all sin was repulsive to God. While we are down here trying to judge which sins were the worst, they are all emitting a disgusting odor to a Holy God.
So instead of judging others, let’s focus on getting ourselves clean so that our aroma is pleasant and pleasing to God. The only cleaning product we can use is the blood of Jesus.
When He died on the cross for us, the blood He shed has the power to wash us completely clean from our dirt, sin, and shame – all of that unrighteousness mentioned in this week’s scripture – which leads to our unpleasant odor.
Don’t forget this dinnertime lesson the next time a wretched scent attacks your sense of smell. After covering your nose, take the time to be sure you are not emitting an equally offensive spiritual smell to God.
Do you find yourself judging other people’s behaviors while excusing your own? Today’s lesson is a great reminder to focus inward on the behaviors that we need to change, while recommitting ourselves to show the love of God to others around us, regardless of their choices, behavior, or way of life.
If you find yourself judging someone, stop and then simply pray for that person.
Feel free to respond in the comments section… and share this story with someone in your life that could use the encouragement.
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