Taking Out the Garbage


I’ve never enjoyed this task – it stinks. I often think of those garbage guys who hoist that mess we produce up on those smelly green trucks or whatever color is prominent in your town. I often think, as I ride by these fellas, that it is to me one the lowest jobs in the world, yet some of these garbagemen – never have seen a woman doing this, although I’m sure they do – take it in stride as just part of life. Some, I’m sure, feel it’s the best job in the world. I like what “Belinda” wrote in Yahoo Answers:

“I think it’s mainly a psychological thing. Dirty, filthy manual labor is incompatible with femininity. It’s much harder for a woman to take on a job like that and maintain a sense of dignity as a female than it is for a man to maintain a sense of dignity as a male.” Well, okay, Belinda, now I understand. I thought it was about inequality, but you have cleared that up for me. (You female garbagepersons can write me on my blog if you are distressed over Belinda’s answer.)

“Hey, Norton”

I remember the TV show, “The Honeymooners,” when I was growing up. Jackie Gleason (Ralph Kramden) had the good job of driving a city bus, but Art Carney (Ed Norton) worked in the sewer. So I guess there are worst jobs than hanging off a garbage truck and heaving trash!

Ministry is often like this. If you really want to help people, you have to listen to their garbage. We all have it, but sometimes we don’t “take it out.” It may stink inside of us year after year. If it piles up deeper and deeper, our shame of living below the level of what we think life should be grows ever strong. Some ministry actually gets down there with Ed Norton, but that’s part of loving people where they are.

I cannot believe the amount of literal garbage that just two people can produce! It’s crazy! And some of the trash goes down the garbage disposal where it’s emptied into the sewer. There the Ed Nortons go to work to ensure the sewer lines are always kept open so our crapola can make it to its destination.

Each year the average person generates 4.3 pounds of waste per day. This is 1.6 pounds more than most produced back in 1960. Where does it all go? Approximately 55% of 220 million tons of waste generated each year in the United States ends up in one of the over 3,500 landfills. Municipal solid waste landfills are the second-largest source of human-related methane emissions in the United States, accounting for approximately 22 percent of these emissions in 2008 (EPA, 2011). And the government has been worried about cows giving off too much methane gas!

The garbage ministry
I think ministers who listen to people’s problems and take real steps to help them are the “garbagemen” of the kingdom. The cool thing is we don’t have to keep this stuff since Jesus is willing to remove the garbage Himself and haul it to His spiritual landfill! Before His removal, the filth we come up with, the hate, the resentment, the unforgiveness, and whatever else you can think of, gets piled up by the tons inside of us until we decide it’s time to “take out the garbage.” If we refuse to do this, we begin to spiritually stink very badly. Spraying ourselves with Lysol (putting on a “nice face”) only inhibits garbage disposal from taking place, and church is the main place we see this inaction. Well, in at least in some of them.

If we don’t let Jesus take this stuff, the landfills get larger and fuller. For example, on the physical side, of the 251 million tons (228 million metric tons) of trash, or solid waste, generated in the United States in 2006, about 81.8 million tons (74.2 million metric tons), or 32.5 percent, was either recycled or composted [source 1=”EPA” language=”:”][/source]. Before recycling, trash mostly consists of paper products, yard clippings, plastics and food waste. In some people, their garbage gets recycled through “self help” programs. These may move the mess a little, but who wants this when the Lord has promised to remove it completely?

Our garbage and the Cross
Does it ever occur to you that Jesus took all our garbage on Himself when He died on the cross? Every lie, every murder, rape, theft, every blaspheming thought or word, every drunken orgy, betrayal, every crooked business deal, adultery, etc., He took upon Himself so we could be righteous in His sight:
“For our sake He made Christ [virtually] to be sin Who knew no sin, so that in and through Him we might become [[a]endued with, viewed as being in, and examples of] the righteousness of God [what we ought to be, approved and acceptable and in right relationship with Him, by His goodness]” (2 Cor. 5:21)
That’s hard to conceive, but He is God, and was the only One capable of taking the sin of the whole world on Himself so we could be free and absolved of it. I like this verse:
“For this is my blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matt. 26:28)
One commentary wrote: To remit is to forgive. Remission is a related word, and it means “forgiveness.” The “remission of sin,” then, is simply the “forgiveness” of sin. The phrase is used in eight places in the King James Version of the Bible. Modern translations, such as the English Standard Version, render the phrase “for the forgiveness of sins.”

This definition doesn’t go far enough, though. The Greek word for remission is “aphesis,” which means, “to send away,” “a letting go,” “a release,” “pardon,” “complete forgiveness.” In other words, He sent away, let go of, released and pardoned our sins by complete forgiveness.

Eating others’ garbage
To survive, some people eat other people’s garbage. Like La Chureca, the largest garbage dump in Central America. It’s located on the outskirts of Managua, the capital city of Nicaragua and covers over 4 square miles (7 sq. km). One thousand people live and work on the “City of Trash” every day.

This is literal, but we also eat others’ verbal garbage everyday because of their negativity, slander, condemnation and desire to hurt us. As they say, “Hurt people hurt people.” Some TV and movies certainly add to the list of garbage that’s passed off as Emmy and Oscar-winning, culturally edifying and wholesome fun. Several hours a night we can eat others’ garbage by sitting under a barrage of filth that would fill any size dumpster. I’m not against TV per se: I just find so little on it or at the movies that’s worth the time to ingest it. Zombies? Romantic bloodsucking vampires? Pu-leeze!

The Bible says concerning Lot, Abraham’s nephew, who decided for living in Sodom, a biblical Peyton Place, where anything went, that “his righteous soul was vexed” by living there. One commentator said, “His soul, because it was righteous, felt vexation at the evil which he was obliged to see and hear. This serves to show that the pain at the sight of the sinful lives arose out of personal activity, out of inclination of the soul to the good, out of positive opposition to the evil” (Dietlein).

The Greek word for vexation is the word “basanizo,” which means something a little different than just suffering amidst evil. Although one of its definitions is “to torment or cause pain,” it also means, “a touchstone used to test the purity of gold and other metals,” or “to struggle at sea with a head wind.” In other words, Lot experienced temptation, a black stone, to test his metal or character. So much of our own vexation is used to test us to see how we stand up under temptation.

Some people live in a virtual Sodom where they are exposed to things they really don’t want to see, but are often exposed to it, regardless. I remember when “submission” was taught by some to mean a wife was to do any rotten thing her husband wanted her to, watch porn, and perform demeaning sexual acts for his pleasure. This was and is so wrong! Of course, within many cities, there are the grossest, vilest things done imaginable. People live and love this kind of environment because they love sin. And, yes, there are those who are forced into this ungodliness by way of human trafficking and drugs. How sad.

Taking out the trash through deliverance
When we hide our garbage out of pride or shame, we only compound the problem. Our personal garbage can may be clean on the outside but full of nasty trash on the inside. It’s kind of like having a house that has the neatest yard in town, everything cut and trimmed, but on the inside there is much strife, bickering, unkind words and cruelty. Scripture says it’s preferable to have little to live on with peace than to have a great deal of stuff and be faced with difficulty and strife:

“A meal of bread and water in contented peace is better than a banquet spiced with quarrels” (Prov. 17:1 The Message).

The deliverance ministry is for people being vexed by various and sundry difficulties and torments who need help. These aren’t people in the lowest pits of life but usually normal people who are suffering and at their wits end. We, of course, have to want to experience this deliverance by laying aside our pride and admitting we need help. In this way, someone else, a faithful brother or sister in Christ, can help us take out the garbage. A person could spend years with counselors, but someone, who deeply knows Jesus, can do a mighty work of sanitation in a very short time by identifying the root problems and casting away evil that is the source of the torment. In our ministry, we employ a wonderful methodology called “Restoring the Foundations” (RTF). RTF is an international ministry that sees major breakthroughs often in a very short time.

Exorcisms are up!
The Catholic Church announced recently that the number exorcisms are up because of kids’ involvement in the occult. This isn’t surprising due to our culture’s misunderstanding of evil (see my blog – Living in Victory in an Evil Age). Another cultural misunderstanding – due to movies – primarily The Exorcist — is that Catholic priests are the only people who can deliver people from demons. The Bible says nothing of the sort, and that every child of God has been given authority over evil:

“And these signs will accompany those who believe (emphasis mine): In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues;” (Mark 16:17 NIV). Notice it’s for all who believe.

Undoubtedly deliverance isn’t everyone’s bailiwick, but God has called certain people within the Body of Christ to act as His “garbagepeople.” A lot of times we have to get our hands dirty to help pull another hurting soul out of a sordid mess that is keeping them in a garbage dump and keeping them from God’s best.

Christians bound by porn
For example, some estimate that at least half of the men in church have intentionally visited pornographic websites within the past year. The relationship these men have with pornography directly affects the relationships they have with those in your communities. Perhaps you have seen a man who seems to have it all — a loving wife and children, a good job — throw it all away because he cannot keep himself from downloading Internet porn. Or maybe you have counseled a young man who has become so isolated from his family and friends he no longer feels God is able to forgive him of the things he has seen and done while surfing online for porn. It is easy to find stories of high school girls sending lewd pictures of themselves to their boyfriends who then distribute them to their classmates.

These are just a few areas where the garbage needs to be taken out, but there are literally hundreds of ways people, and even Christians, become obsessed or bound to unhealthy and even destructive lifestyles.

Thank God, there is always help. Jesus forgives and wants to free us from every snare of the enemy and wants us all to enjoy all He has done for us! If you’re stuck, seek help and get free from emotional, mental, physical and spiritual entrapments.

Joseph Beckham is the author of Deeper Water for Thirsty Souls – http://amzn.com/1493781286 and Dean of the School of Education for Transformation Ministries – http://transformationranch.org.

7 comments on “Taking Out the Garbage”

  1. Freedom is so very possible…thankful for your calling to be used as a “garbageperson”!…this ministry is so needed in folks lives…hope others will seek to be “free indeed”! Thanks for this word and may it reach many hearts!

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