As I walked into the cardio room at the gym this morning, I was greeted with the overwhelming stench of someone’s sweat! I realize it is a cardio room and people do go there to sweat, but the room is equipped with an enormous air filtering system that usually keeps the odor at a minimum. But not today! As I climbed on my machine, I was able to quickly identify the culprit- a man probably in his mid-fifties, sweating from head to toe and stinking to high heaven. The smell was so pungent and putrid I couldn’t concentrate on anything else. I was consumed with wanting him to go and take his stinky sweat with him. I know it sounds petty, but I actually prayed for him to leave. It took everything in me to resist gagging from the smell. Thankfully to my great relief he made his move within a few minutes after my arrival exiting the cardio room. However, it took an additional fifteen minutes before the smell finally cleared and I am pretty sure there were a few people who walked in afterward looking my direction and thinking I was the culprit.
Now there are many who come into that room, work out hard, and get soaked in their own sweat, but it is rare that their smell becomes that offensive and overwhelming. What was different about this guy? Though I can’t be certain my guess is that he probably came in carrying a stench from the previous day. Old sweat is much fouler than new sweat. Maybe he worked hard the day before and decided to wait for a shower until after his morning workout. Bad idea! An in-between shower could have made a world of difference.
I happened to be reading through Matthew 10 while all this was transpiring, and it made me think twice about Jesus’ words in verse 4.
“ And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet.”
Though I understand the significance of “shaking the dust from your feet” as an open warning, I also think it carries an even greater significance for our own sake and the sake of those to whom we are called to serve in the future.
If I allow the dust from a bad experience today to settle on me and travel with me into tomorrow, it can potentially taint my future ministry to others with the stench of yesterday.
I’ve discovered that when I carry the dirt of an offense, disappointment, frustration, or wound from yesterday into today, it has the power to spoil and corrupt the present work of Christ through me. I wind up believing for less and complaining more. Instead of the sweet fragrance of Christ, there’s the foul smell of flesh.
So what is the remedy? A good spiritual bath-DAILY!
Come into the presence of God with all the garbage of your day, so He can wash you clean with His living water. Don’t allow your wounds and disappointments to fester but instead choose to let His love cleanse, heal, and restore you. Take time to pour out your heart before Him then allow Him to pour out the water of His word over you. If you need to shed some tears, then shed some tears but then allow him to dust off your feet so you can walk into tomorrow smelling fresh and clean.