If you follow me on Facebook, you may have seen some of the posts I have made about the air pollution here in Chiang Mai. Most of the pollution is due to the burning of rice fields for future harvests. Today the pollution is especially bad. Chiang Mai is a city surrounded by mountains, but you cannot see them at all due to the smoke. If you have to be outside for an extended period of time, you most certainly need to wear a mask.
Breathing in this toxic air will make you feel sick and sluggish. But it doesn’t happen right away. It happens slowly—slow enough to where you can’t always perceive the harm it is doing to your body. I think the same can be said of sin in our lives.
There are certain things we know are not good for us and therefore, we avoid them completely. For example, we know it is sinful to cheat on our spouses. After all, it is the seventh commandment. But a flirtatious comment or joke with someone other than your spouse is okay every now and then, right? It’s not like your actually going to sleep with them or anything. You’re just playing around!
There might be smoke in your lungs.
Let’s look at another commandment, shall we? Obviously, we know it is wrong to murder someone. I mean, that’s number 6 on the list! But, what about that guy you despise at work. Don’t you treat a dead person better than you treat him? Okay, maybe that’s too harsh. Try this on for size. What about that “weird lady” at church everyone avoids? Do you treat her like a sister-in-Christ? Or in your heart do you wish she wasn’t a Christian? At least then she wouldn’t talk your head off for 10 minutes every Sunday after church.
There might be smoke in your lungs, friend.
Tell me if this describes you. You aren’t a “full-blown” sinner like those heathens out there in the world are. You don’t smoke or drink or cuss. You go to church every Sunday. You tithe. You even teach a Sunday School class. You’re squeaky clean from the outside. But, on the inside…your lungs are black. You don’t have a thirst for righteousness or a hunger to love others. You’ve been breathing in the pollution of the world and its desires thinking that it won’t have any affect on you. Now you are sluggish when it comes to prayer. You start to feel sick when you think of reading God’s Word. Your spiritual lungs have become so damaged that you can’t even utter an “Amen.” How did this happen, you ask? You traded the fresh, clean air of truth for the toxic fumes of lies.
But there is good news! Unlike the damage of real second-hand smoke, spiritual second-hand smoke is reversible. All you need to do is repent and Christ will be faithful to forgive you and cleanse you (1 John 1:9). Breathe in the pure Gospel that saved you. Inhale the grace of God once again that was purchased by the blood of His Son. And then breathe out new thanksgivings and praises to Him.
I may not be able to do much about the air I breathe in here in Chiang Mai, but I can do something about the sin I tolerate in my life. And that helps me breathe easy.