My wife and I took our five children to the Bronx Zoo on Wednesday. It was a very hot and humid day. Many of the exhibits were closed because a storm the night before had knocked over many trees. We could hear chain saws working on the trees almost the entire time that we were there. We left right around closing time at 5:00 p.m. As we walked out of the gate I purchased bottles of water for everyone- the price was only one dollar on the outside of the gate, but closer to 3 dollars inside.
After acquiring the water we began to walk about three blocks back to where we had parked. I finished my water in the first half block (did I mention it was hot outside?) and was looking for a trash can to dispose of the bottle. The first trash can I discovered was right by a bus stop where a lot of street vendors had been set up for most of the day. That trash can was piled up beyond overflowing (if that is possible). The trash was heaped at least a foot over the top of the trash can, and then the rest of the trash from the day was all around the area. It was revolting. I decided to carry my trash a bit farther rather than add to that mess. About a block later I discovered a trash can which was usable and depsited my garbage in it.
It occurs to me that our sin makes us appear to God like that trash can appeared to me- disgusting, gross, revolting, and unworthy to be used. And that trash can was not going to do anything to improve itself. It was not going to empty itself. Left to itself that trashcan was only going to get worse. Isn't that a good description of our lives apart from God's grace? We can't clean ourselves up. We can't make ourselves better. Instead, we need Jesus to clean up our sins and present us to God clean and usable. Don't fool yourself into thinking that you are able to clean yourself up. Instead, accept Jesus' generous offer to take the penalty for your sins and to clean you up so that you can be clean in God's sight. Then you won't stink.