A few weeks back, we noticed water streaming into our yard, making it a swampy, muddy mess. At first, I noticed the small stream, then the smell, then the murky collection of scum that began to be more apparent with each day. We assessed our own property to see if we had a leak? Nope, but SOMEONE did and it was making a mess in OUR yard! I was not happy.
Peeking over the 6 feet high privacy fence, there it was… our neighbor had standing water and what looked to be the makings of a redneck swamp in their backyard. It must have been collecting for days. Of course, I alerted them for partly selfish reasons; I had noticed a swarm of mosquitos with suitcases waiting to move in. I was also concerned at how their oversight could affect the condition of their property and water bill. OUCH!!!
It got me thinking about how our mess is never really our mess. It leaks onto others. Maybe they thought it was their right to neglect their own property. They own it, why not? We never see these guys and never talk to them. We couldn’t even if we wanted to because of the privacy fence. They had done everything to make sure their life was their life. Yet here we were dealing with their mess – or was it our mess? Now it was both. Anyway, if we hadn’t have been attentive to our own property we could have been the reluctant owners of a glorious, suburban swamp.(Interestingly enough, we were also the ones who brought attention to their water problem. We got in their business, but that’s a whole other blog.)
Along those lines, it also reminded me of a sermon series called, “How Much is Your Sin Going to Cost Me?” The gist of it was that, we think we can make personal decisions independently of others, but it is impossible to exist without affecting others. Even our indifference affects others. Trust me, you are leaking onto everyone in your life seen and unseen. Your private decisions are making an impact. Look around. You may think it’s not a big deal, but that’s only because it’s your leak.
As leaders, Caleb and I have a goal: that our influence would increase the quality of life of those around us. That’s it. It may not always be pleasant or super fun, but overall we hope those that allow us to have relationship with them would say, I am better for it, or at least, I’m not worse off. This means we are constantly assessing our relationships, our behavior and its effect on others. Just like Paul prescribed in Romans 12:3, “Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.”
Yours, Mine and Ours
The truth is, our personal sin hurts others. Our behavior can reap devastation in others lives. One person’s water leak is my damaged property. One person’s anger is another’s physical abuse. One person’s texting is another’s car wreck. One person’s turning from God is another’s heartache. One person’s addiction to porn is another’s betrayal. One person’s arrogant comment is another’s hurt. I think you get my drift.
When I wake up in a terrible mood and choose to be unkind, I must understand it isn’t about me. It affects my children and their day. Their perspective is, “My mom was a holy terror and now I have to deal with that the rest of the day.” It’s my proverbial water leak, but it’s encroaching onto their day.
To mind our leaks isn’t a burden, it isn’t walking on eggshells, it’s being mindful of our own mess. It is a joy to live our lives so that it reaps blessings not curses on those around us. Christ calls us to live so we are not creating havoc and mess in others, but instead to be a source of love. John 15:12, Jesus says, “This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you.”
When you look around at your borders, relationships, etc., do you see a swampy mess? Do you observe people with shovels, mud boots and trash bags, cleaning up after you? Or do you see smiles, waves back and dry lots? In real terms, are people pulling away or engaging with you?
I love Proverbs 11:25 NLT, “The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.” When your spouse, friends, neighbors, employees, co-workers and children think of you, let’s be honest, would they say your influence refreshes them? Or would they say, “Eh, you gotta water leak and it’s ruining my day!”
I will also make note, some of us are on the other side of the leak. We are dealing with the constant aftermath of someone else’s disrepair,please, be careful. Some relationships are unhealthy and not God’s best. In keeping with the water leak analogy, you may be in a “flood zone” with this relationship. Nobody wants to live in a flood zone. So unless you are willing to take the constant risk and you like mosquitos and mildew, move on and don’t look back. Something may not be right.
Response: Look at the facial expressions of those you live with, are you seeing signs of the negative effect from your decisions and actions? Assess the other relationships in your life, too. If you notice you have created some mess, take responsibility for your actions and ask the Lord to help you actively grow in that area, and then grow. Work to be a blessing to those in your life, not striving, but enabled by God’s grace and leadership.
Rebecca lives in Cary with her husband and 4 children. She and her husband are from Mississippi and lived in Wisconsin for 7 years before calling the Triangle home. They are the founding pastors of Bright Chapel and are passionate about equipping, loving and encouraging believers to grow towards spiritual maturity. She loves being surrounded by friends and laughter.If you were to drop in on her you would most likely find her doing laundry.
If you like this blog, share it!