Many times, the truth hurts. It hurts us, it hurts our loved one. It destroys the relationship that we held dear and called stable. As one roots out lies and discovers all of the rotten stuff that has been happening, one senses infection, rottenness and decay. For all real purposes the stench and destruction can overwhelm us as we uncover the truth. How do we deal with this and live without being affected permanently by the stench of lies and deceit?
Years ago, I had a stench in my garage in the late spring. My husband and I felt it was a dead mouse and decided that as it dried up, the smell would go away. As the week went by, the smell became intolerable. One day, my husband decided to find the source of stench using his keen sense of smell. He started following the scent and discovered a rotting turkey carcass on top of a shelf. Evidently it was an unnecessary turkey at Thanksgiving that was moved out of the freezer as things were reorganized. Placed on the shelf, it stayed frozen until spring. Upon discovery, he carefully disposed of it along with a hoard of maggots feeding on it. Cleaning the area with antiseptic and allowing air to circulate quickly made the garage stench-free again.
What is the lesson to learn? Sometimes we may need to be brave and tolerate a stench to clean up the problem. Getting rid of the dead stuff is hard. It confronts a lifestyle of choices we can no longer tolerate. It may bring out ugly things that have clung to their choices. We may desire to throw our errant loved one out completely so we can start anew without them. To tackle this, we will need the fortitude with God’s guidance to clean up the stench in a partnership with God and our loved one.
How do we do this without being the judge? How do we tolerate what is going to be revealed as things are explored more deeply? Can we be positioned in a way to love no matter what comes up?
The key is to carry the fragrance of the Lord.
Two verses talk about this fragrance.
Ephesians 5:1-2 (NIV) which states, “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.”
Christ’s death was a fragrant aroma to God. The stench, the vivid images God saw as a fragrant offering because it was the beginning of restoration.
How can we model this? By loving as Christ loved. Loving the unlovely, stench and all. Walking in love. Helping others to sense God’s unconditional love through us.
“For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing,” 2 Corinthians 2:15 (NIV).
This second verse challenges us to be so saturated with Christ’s love that it oozes out to those that need to sense it. As we are saturated, it makes what we carry attractive to those that are living in the stench. They hopefully will see the need to get rid of the things that are contributing to their slow death.
In both cases, God’s love can give us a “stench tolerance” to get to the root issue. This might mean offering forgiveness and modeling unconditional love. Sometimes it means the stench has to be removed from the house through boundaries set with consequences.
Father God, You loved fragrant offerings in the Old Testament. You love the offerings of praise and worship now. I ask for your guidance to root out the issues of stench that I smell. Please assist me by giving me the love of Christ to tolerate the ugly and dying so I can help them to become clean and whole. If this is too much for me, I pray they are open to seeking help to remove the stench through resources that communicate Your heart for them.