Today’s Scripture: And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof. Romans 13:11–14

Christmas is no excuse for taking a spiritual vacation. We must constantly be on the lookout for rotten attitudes, subtle temptations, and secret sins which will hinder our relationship with God and others. In March of 1994, a German tourist checked into a hotel near Miami International Airport. That night in his room he noticed a foul odor. He did not mention it to the hotel’s front desk because he figured travelers must occasionally deal with discomfort.

When the tourist awoke the next morning, the odor was worse. He reported the problem to the front desk as he checked out of the hotel. A few days later, a maid cleaning the room discovered the source of the odor. Beneath the bed she found a corpse.

Sometimes discomfort in life is nothing to worry about. But foul odors may be a sign of a bigger problem that should not be ignored. Every foul odor has a source. Once we find the source, we will be better prepared to deal with it. If we find that the stench is in our own hearts, we should not just coast through life pretending it is no problem. The festive smells of cinnamon, hot chocolate, and pecan pie cannot hide the odor. A broad smile will not cover it up. It is clear that something is wrong. Until we take inventory of the problem, it will only get worse.

How does your life smell to others? Have you been taking a break from your Bible reading or prayer life? Have you been attempting to manipulate people and circumstances to your advantage instead of trusting God with the outcome? Are you trying to see how close you can get to temptation without sinning? If your actions cause a foul odor, then you can be sure others will catch a whiff. Take inventory of the problem, and deal with it before it gets worse.

Devotional by Jim Scudder, Jr.