Dead People Stink…

25 04 2013

…and they walk among us. Their words fill the air with a thick  blue fog of foul odor; through their actions it’s not uncommon for them to leave behind bits of “rotted flesh.” Their grave clothes leave them bound and helpless to do anything about their condition.

It’s not uncommon to be flipped off, told off, or put down by complete strangers anymore – or even by people you know. I see this happen frequently. On occasion I’m the recipient. It used to really bug me when people were ill-mannered and self-centered.

One day I realized: This person does not know Jesus. According to the Bible they are *dead* in their trespasses and sin.

Duh! Dead people stink. They can’t help it.

Should this understanding give me a sense of superiority to them? Hardly. If it wasn’t for Jesus, I would still be just like them.

Once we are made “alive in Christ,” though, there is still a lot of work to be done.

Consider Lazarus.

He was dead as they come – four days in the tomb. I love how the King James records Martha’s response when they were told to take away the stone that covered his grave, “Lord, by this time he stinketh!”

There is no stench like a rotting carcass. Stick your nose in a bag with a pork roast that’s been left too long in the refrigerator, if you doubt this. I gagged all the way to the dumpster!

Fortunately for Lazarus, the grave was opened. Then Jesus called him by name; good thing He did. Had Jesus just said, “Come forth” there would have been a lot more excitement that day.

Once Lazarus made his way out of the tomb, Jesus instructed those who were there to loose him. It is interesting that Jesus didn’t do it Himself. He was the epitome of servanthood. I doubt Jesus thought this was “beneath” Him; but rather, handled it this way as an example for us to follow.

A newly “resurrected” person, made alive in Christ, is still bound in his grave clothes…addictions, beliefs, behaviors, attitudes. They’re still very smelly. Unless this person gets help from the “living” (other believers),  around him or her, they will be unable to remove the things that bind in their own strength. We are called to come alongside their stinky, newly alive frames and assist in the unwrapping. His arms are bound to begin with – rendering the fellow helpless in getting loose on his own.

Once this person has been thoroughly bathed by the washing of the water with the Word, he begins to be less “aromatic.” In time, he will learn to wear his new robe of righteousness – and be ready to assist someone else in the process.

And it is a process!

When I grasped this, I began to navigate life with more grace. I can (but don’t always – sorry, Lord) have compassion for those who are still dead, and pray for their release from death. I will mourn over their condition.

And once they’re truly alive, I have the joy of being invited to participate in their process of being made free. It will be stinky for a while, but before long they will become the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. They must be unwrapped gently, though. There’s brand new baby skin under those grave clothes!

In the meantime, they stink and they can’t help it. Let’s not content ourselves with criticism for their rotten behavior, or judge them.

So when you find your co-worker or the person in line at the store stinking up the joint, just remember:

They’re dead; they can’t help it!

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25 responses

13 10 2013
Beach & Jazz

Thanks for the link to this post. I love the point you make about grace and not feeling superior and that it is a process. I’ve been a Christian 14 years and sometimes I do stinky things. Gotta love the heart Jesus has for us wherever we are on our journey.

13 10 2013
lessonsbyheart

Grace…I love grace when I’m the one who needs it…or the person is not a disciple of Jesus. I’m not that anxious to extend it to other Christians though. 😦

I’m hoping that the Lord grows me up in this area soon!

Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. I do appreciate it. 🙂

\o/

13 10 2013
Beach & Jazz

How odd, you extend grace to yourself as a Christian and love when God extends grace to you as a Christian but aren’t that anxious to extend it to other Christians.
I feel like I’m the opposite. I extend grace to other Christians, but I don’t extend the same grace to myself and I beat myself up.
I wonder if we could extend grace equally to everyone and that’s a process in itself that God takes us all on.
Just thinking out loud.

13 10 2013
lessonsbyheart

I don’t necessarily *extend* grace to me…mostly just like the *idea* of grace for me!

There are many Christians who have been…less than loving. Ones I am in the process of forgiving. It puts a “scritch in my record” to think that God extends the same grace to them for their shortcomings. 😛

For the record, I’m making great progress in this area.

God is no respecter of persons, so His grace and mercy are freely offered to all. Since we’re being made into the likeness of Christ, I’m pretty sure that we are in process to learn to extend grace equally to everyone.

It’s at times like these that I’m thankful for Philippians 1:6…God always finishes what He started!

(Love it when folks “think out loud” in their comments.)

\o/

13 10 2013
Beach & Jazz

Oh right, I get you. I thought you meant hard to extend grace when others stuff up in their own journey, but yeah, it’s so much harder to extend grace when others hurt us, especially Christians. Yeah, I struggle with that too!
I LOVE that verse! It’s one that I cling to.

14 10 2013
lessonsbyheart

🙂

\o/

4 09 2013
God Is Not Disappointed With You | A Needed Word

[…] have no real expectations from any person who does not know Jesus. They are dead (spiritually), and dead people stink – they can’t help it. If their behavior stinks – it’s no […]

2 09 2013
2 09 2013
lessonsbyheart

{thanks} 🙂
\o/

14 05 2013
Elizabeth Yalian

This is an excellent article. It’s so easy to think the worst of people when we are offended. But before Jesus, we are all offensive in one way or another. In December, I took a huge fall, flat on my face as I tripped on an uneven sidewalk in MD. (a post I am working on) Three young guys walked right past me and laughed. My daughter was furious. For those who are “dead” in Christ, they truly cannot help it. Love what you said about the baby skin. We also wouldn’t feed babies the same kind of food we eat. The process of feeding is progressive, as that baby grows, we add food harder to digest. Thank you for posting, we need this reminder much too often. Is it ok to reblog this?

14 05 2013
lessonsbyheart

Feel free to reblog anything here!

14 05 2013
Elizabeth Yalian

Thank you!

28 04 2013
thethinkingofthoughts2013

Brilliant post – especially the handle with care of the new skin. Thank you for sharing it

29 04 2013
lessonsbyheart

That was added as an afterthought. Makes sense, though. Newborns are tender. They can’t take a lot of abrasion and friction before they are seriously injured. I’ve seen this happen to many new Christians, by the way. The “older” ones seem to think they have to jump on them and scrub away all “dirt.” Too bad we missed God’s point – they are HIS workmanship…not ours!

\ 🙂 /

29 04 2013
thethinkingofthoughts2013

Yes I agree. As one of the ‘older’ ones I know that I am still being worked on and that my new skin can be a little sensitive initially. Scrubbing certainly is painful but oh so worth it!

29 04 2013
lessonsbyheart

Oh, me too!

25 04 2013
Kevin

I absolutely love this post! It snuck up on me about the grave clothes. What a tremendous way to impart grace into everyones heart. 🙂

25 04 2013
lessonsbyheart

It snuck up on me, too. I hadn’t meant to go there – it just kind of happened. I love it when that happens!

25 04 2013
billieazahir

When reading this the words, “Forgive them Father, for they no not what they do.” You are right for deciding to forgive them like Jesus would. God Bless. 🙂

25 04 2013
lessonsbyheart

Wish it was as easy as it sounds! Best wishes for your blog!

25 04 2013
Toni Sprandel

Love, love, loved it!!

25 04 2013
Christina

Great post. Compassion is very important. I also think it’s important to help guide one another but even more important to not “look to” or “lean on” another Christian for most of your support or guidance, instead of God. That is what the word and Jesus is for. If we are not cautious, we will find ourselves looking towards man for our answers and help. I do agree, though… We are certainly all here to help each other. 🙂 Blessings.

25 04 2013
lessonsbyheart

Glad you liked it. I agree that we need to keep the focus on Jesus.

Maybe the reason that He calls us to assist in the beginning is because few “baby” Christians know how to get help directly from Jesus and need Him “with skin on” through us for a bit. Not sure.

There definitely comes a time when we lean mostly on Jesus and not as much on others. I enjoyed getting to that place – it means I don’t have to wait for an appointment to get help with a current issue!

25 04 2013
Christina

You make a great point! You may be spot on 🙂

25 04 2013
lessonsbyheart

🙂

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