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Taking out the trash and cleaning up our lives

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By Jon Rohr

I get to take out the trash.  Occasionally I’ll be the one to gather the trash up in the house, but I admit, my wife is usually quicker at that.  But I’m almost always the one who hauls it out to the street. Once a week I roll that big garbage can up the hill and get it ready to go.
You can see the same thing just about everywhere. Usually once a week, garbage cans pop up on the side of the road.  In the morning a big truck comes by and that afternoon the garbage cans disappear again.  It is really sort of amazing when you stop to think about it!
The other day I was reminded about what would happen if we didn’t take the trash out.  We had tossed something in the kitchen trash and by the next morning, it was stinking up the place!  Some garbage just stinks!  It makes things unpleasant, it needs to be thrown out.
There are different kinds of garbage in our lives as well.  Garbage trucks pick up rotting food and things like that, but what do we do with the other garbage in our lives?  With the unkind things people say to us?  What do we do with the painful memories that haunt us?  What do we do with the unkind things we have done to others?  How do we deal with that kind of garbage?
I think the Bible gives us some good direction for taking out that kind of garbage as well.  First we need to seek out God’s forgiveness for the wrongs we have done.  Those things can bring tremendous guilt into our lives.  The Bible tells us, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9 ESV)
One way to take out that kind of garbage is to confess it before the Lord and receive His forgiveness.  But what about the things that other people do, what about those ugly things that have come into our lives?  I think the Bible has some help for that as well, Paul tells us, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:8 ESV)
These days it is easy to focus on the negative, but maybe our focus is wrong.  Maybe we would feel better it we kept our eyes on the positive.  Maybe one way to get rid of the trash is to refuse to let it dominate our thoughts!
We all have garbage in our lives that we need to remove.  We’ll be happier and healthier if we just make the effort to take the garbage out.  If we confess when we need to, and if we remember to keep our focus on the positive things around us, then we’ll be happier and healthier, and maybe a little holier as well!  Next time we see someone taking out the trash, let’s take a moment and make sure no garbage is collecting in our lives!