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What's that I smell?

Don’t let even one rotten word seep out of your mouths. Instead, offer only fresh words that build others up when they need it most. That way your good words will communicate grace to those who hear them. (Ephesians 4:29 VOICE)
Who's really listening to what you say? There is a commercial out right now in this election season which depicts pictures of kids sitting in front of the TV while a certain candidate uses expletives, bashes people, and is generally not very civil in his communication style. The message is that our kids are listening - their little brains being like sponges taking it all in. While this isn't a political rant on any one candidate, let me just assure you of this - people are listening and the truth is we make more judgments than we might think based upon what it is we hear. As adults we carry this one step further than the child might - we might actually look for the action that backs the words up, but not always! Sometimes we are more than willing to take things at "face value" and not really wait to see the actions which will emerge behind those words.
I kind of like how this passage unfolds, but especially the choice of words used in this translation. Rottenness has a way of working its way to the surface, doesn't it?  I have a compost bin out in the backyard and that means I need a compost collection container somewhere in my house or garage. If I let that stuff "dwell" too long in that collection bin in my hot garage, it doesn't smell to pretty when I lift the lid! In fact, it could set you back a few feet! The odor seems to linger a long, long time after you have done so. Why? Rottenness has begun and when rottenness is the underlying process, what emerges is kind of rank. Even if I don't lift the lid, there is an odor which begins to seep from the small spaces between the lid and the container. That foulness has a way of getting out!
I don't think it is much different in our lives - rottenness has a way of seeping to the surface and letting it be known that something just isn't right on the inside. This may often be revealed quicker in our words than one might think - being spoken quicker than we ever wanted it to be, exposing just how "rotten" our motive might be or our heart has become. Interestingly, the word "seep" was chosen here meaning to escape even the tiniest of spaces so as to come to the surface. When there is something amiss in our hearts, it has a way of "seeping" to the surface - doesn't it? Try as we might to keep it under wraps, there is something "rotten" which begins to get out "between the cracks".
We probably all want our lives to reflect grace - the grace we have received and the grace we know others will want to receive. Yet, there are just times when we don't do the best job actually exhibiting grace - something quite different seeps to the surface, exposing a little bit of jealousy, anger, or even mistrust from deep within. It is at times like these that we need to ask God to show us what is at the core of those exposed motives. No motive exposed is ever wasted when it is placed into God's hands - he has a special way of using it to show us what is at the root of what we see or hear when we ask for his wisdom. Grace doesn't come forth when rottenness is at the core - the thing which comes forth is probably the furthest thing from grace. Allow God to deal with the rottenness when it is revealed - knowing that if even a little bit of it seeps to the surface, there is a whole lot more where that came from!  Just sayin!


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