What Are You Stirring Up?

My mom is a fantastic cook. I will never forget the smells of her kitchen when I was growing up. I do not remember her ever using a recipe, but she always used the perfect mix of sweet-smelling seasonings and spices. To this day, when I smell her cooking, I am taken back to when I was only a boy growing up in Clarksdale, Mississippi.
 
There is another childhood smell that I will never forget. In February of 1994, a severe ice storm hit the Mississippi Delta. We were out of power for two weeks. Somehow, our deep freezer came unplugged from our generator; a fact that was not discovered until it was too late.
 
I never imagined that anything in this world could smell so foul. The same food that smelled and tasted so good coming out of mom’s kitchen, was now repulsively rotten. What was worse? The deep freezer sat inside our house, so we had to empty out the rotten meat and the bloody water one bucket at a time. This whole ordeal became one of the most unpleasant of my childhood memories.
 
Hebrews 10:24 says, “Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.” The author was encouraging his readers to respond to the love of their Savior and High Priest by encouraging and loving others. Christ’s love stirs His followers up to love and good works, thus their love for others also stirs up others in the same way.
 
Every day we make a choice. What are we going to stir up? Are we, with love, going to stir up love? Are we, by our good works, going to inspire others to do good works? Or are we, in selfishness, going to inspire others to be selfish? By evil schemes and gossip, are we going to stir up strife among our brothers and sisters in Christ?
 
If you are a believer and possess any joy, it is because you are loved by the Lord. He sacrificed His life for you. By His kindness, He drew you to faith and repentance. Now you enjoy an intimate personal relationship with Him. Through this relationship, you are being conformed more and more into the image of Christ. It should follow that you too would love others and, by your kindness, stir them up to love and good works.
 
When you seek to be who you are in Christ, you become the sweet-smelling “aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance of death to death, to the other a fragrance of life to life” (2 Cor 2:15-16). When you seek to be faithful to Him, you are, like my mom’s cooking was to me, a pleasing fragrance to God. You smell of life and you enhance the lives of others.
 
When you act out of the flesh, which is rotten and dead, you smell of death to God. Like my rotten deep freezer, you stir up an unpleasant stench in the world. That dead stench only stirs up more death and rottenness in others.
 
It is much more fun to be who you are in Christ and know that you are pleasing the Lord. Living a life that is pleasing to God will not always be pleasing to others, but you will always have the joy of knowing that you have pleased the Lord. Every time you encourage rather than discourage… love rather than hate… refuse to give ear to gossip… refuse to repeat gossip… and flee from temptation, you will have the joy of knowing that you are living out what the Lord has done in you. You will be who Christ said you are: a city on the hill and the salt of the earth.
 

Encourage somebody today. Think of someone whose love and good works have been a blessing to you and consider how to stir them up to even more love and good works. Do not just tell them “thank you.” Explain to them in detail the blessing that they have been to you, and how they inspire you to want to be a better person. Has someone wronged you? Take the opportunity to show them the same grace that was shown to you by Christ. Love them. Forgive them. Refuse to return evil with evil. Be who you are in Christ.