The other day we tore out some old, musty insulation from our basement. It was full of mouse droppings, some mold, and immeasurable amounts of dust. It was no easy task – much different than how it looks on TV where they move in fast-motion and leave out the painfully long amount of time it took between the before and after picture. We loaded the insulation onto our truck in the pouring rain not once, but twice, trying our best to make it all fit in one load.
I had never been to the dump before. I knew about land-fills and that our trash didn’t just “disappear” into the garbage truck. But the reality of it didn’t really hit me until we drove our vehicle through the gate, around the corner and onto a large concrete slab full of trash. It didn’t seem right throwing our old insulation directly onto the slab delegated for such rubbish, but we did it anyway. There, with several other vehicles, we tossed our garbage while they tossed theirs – broken glass, old mattresses, a couch, and other things that moth and rust had destroyed.
My son Elijah cried, “Look, dad, there are so many things here I could have recycled!”
“That’s right son. Our trash doesn’t just disappear. It has to go somewhere. This is where it goes. And sadly this land-fill will only get larger and larger. You’re right, we should be more careful about what we throw away!”
What occurred to me in that moment wasn’t just the amount of things we waist or how we need to make more effort to recycle. What struck me more deeply was the gravity of my sin.
I realized that my flippant attitude toward sin is just as flippant as I am toward throwing away trash. I yell at my kids, let anxiety rule in my heart, over-eat, think horrible thoughts, and I forget that my sin didn’t just disappear. There was a great cost involved in its removal. And unlike the land-fills that continue to grow and fill the earth, Jesus took my sin away completely, separating it as far as the east is from the west, totally being wiped away – vanishing like smoke.
In our culture where there is a quick-fix for nearly anything, it’s easy to forget the sacrifice that Jesus really made to erase our sin. His whole life was a sacrifice from the moment He left heaven until He ascended into glory. It wasn’t a “fast-motion” life of being born, dying, and raising from the dead. In between the before and after picture was a painfully long time in the desert. In between, He used his time and energy to heal, to forgive, to teach, and demonstrate love. In between His birth and resurrection He was misunderstood, questioned, beaten, falsely accused, whipped, spat on, struck, nailed down, thorn-driven, and slowly tortured. And all of it was so that our sin could be taken care of, buried, and completely erased. Our sin didn’t just “disappear” into the garbage truck. It was paid for with a deep and gratuitous price.
When we make excuses, blame-shift, re-direct the gaze onto someone else’s sin, justify our sin by comparison or twist scripture to excuse ourselves, we are treating Jesus’ sacrifice like trash.
But when we confess our sin, admit our mistakes, humble ourselves before the Lord and others; and when we stop and consider our actions before we act, remembering that sin has consequences; and when we reflect on the price that was paid for our sin; then we can truly respect what Jesus did. We can value our risen Savior and appreciate the cost of His great sacrifice and immeasurable debt that He paid to completely remove our sin.
So next time you’re at the dump or watching a truck drive off with your waist, let that be a reminder that like trash, sin didn’t just disappear. It was taken care of by a sacrificial Savior who delighted in taking our garbage, in exchange for His righteousness.