Clean Up the Mess

R.C. Sproul tells a story about the evaluation of people in psychiatric hospitals in Europe. After initial treatment, many patients falsely claimed that they were cured and demanded to be released.
 
Doctors performed many tests to address patients’ claims, but one stands out. Psychiatric patients were placed in a room containing a sink.  Water was purposefully left on, causing the sink to overflow.  As water spilled all over the floor, doctors provided a patient a mop and bucket without giving any instructions about what to do.  

 

The results of this test were fascinating.  Most patients repeatedly mopped the floor as water continuously spilled from the sink.  They repeated this process without stopping the waterflow.  Doctors determined these patients had not been cured.  On the other hand, some patients walked over to the sink, turned off the water, then proceeded to mop the floor until it was dry.  Doctors determined these patients were cured because they identified and eliminated the source of the problem:  the running water.
 
This story applies to Christians today because we need to quickly identify and turn off the constant flow of pessimism or negative behavior we encounter in our homes, jobs, or families.   We often try to address and pacify these issues with kind words, “positive thinking,” or denial.  But here’s the thing:  these overflows are symptoms.  We need solutions.
 
To expand the analogy of the sink overflow,  believers need to ask and know answers to these questions:  What’s the source humanity’s problem?  What steps have God already outlined for us?  What’s our solution for stopping this problem?   1 Peter 5:8-11 provides the perfect response to these questions: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen” (NKJV).
 
Simply put, the source of humanity’s problems is sin because Satan, our adversary, loves to cause confusion and destruction.  Yet we often spend too much time addressing or blaming the wrong person!  Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians  14:33 “For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.”
 
The steps involve resisting Satan by remaining steadfast in our Christian faith and looking to God to help us overcome all temptations that rob God of His glory and control in our lives.  The words of James 4:7-8 could not be more clear: “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.  Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”
 
Lastly, the solution–our spiritual mop and bucket–are prayer and scripture that help strengthen and settle our minds throughout these experiences of temptation and turmoil.  According to Philippians 4:6-7, we should “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let [our] requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard [our] hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
 
Thank God that sin is easily diagnosed and treatable.  It’s time for Christians to clean up the mess!

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