There was a time that I was waiting in court for a case I was working on to be called and there was a DUI trial that I watched as I waited. A witness had seen/heard an accident from their living room as it occurred in front of their home. The witness came outside after noticing the crash and testified that the accused driver had an odor of alcohol about them immediately following the accident.
In cross-examination, the defense attorney asked the witness if they had been drinking in their living room prior to witnessing the accident and the witness admitted that they had. The follow-up question, then, was “how did you distinguish between the smell of alcohol on you versus the smell of alcohol that you claimed to smell on the defendant?”
The witness hesitated before finally admitting, “I couldn’t.” The witness couldn’t tell where his smell stopped and the driver’s began yet his initial testimony was condemning of the driver’s condition.
How often do we do that? How easily do we focus on the smell of other’s people’s problems and conditions rather than recognizing that we’ve got our own smell? Do we even consider that our smell could be blending over into their smell to the point that we can’t distinguish where ours starts versus where theirs ends? It’s such an easy thing to think we recognize somebody else’s issues without realizing that our issues that damage our ability to accurately perceive theirs.
Our smell that oozes out is from our inner jealousy, bitterness, lust or other depravity. Socially acceptable suburban conditions that are so commonplace that abnormal is normal. It’s healthy to take a whiff and recognize that it’s there. Only after getting a good whiff of our own aroma can we start to clean out the junk and replace it with healthy and normal, for real. The crud that gets jammed down and festers within us can be exchanged for a sweet-smelling fragrance that reflects humility, forgiveness and selflessness in the place where the mess used to reside.
Jesus came to heal the broken-hearted and set the captives free. That’s you and that’s me. If we receive His sacrifice, we can live forever with Him in heaven. We don’t have to wait until we die to receive the exchange which He offers by His grace. He wants to heal us and set us free for the purposes and plans He has for us on earth. Redemption is available for the stuff that stinks; all we have to do is be willing to smell it for what it is. He’ll take it from there.