“Something is rotten in here,” my husband complained as he held both refrigerator doors wide open. An awful smell wafted through the air. He was right. Something had gone bad somewhere in the depths of my fridge. I needed to find it and throw it in the trash, but going through that fridge to hunt down the source of the odor would take more time than I had to spare. So I didn’t deal with it at first.

After a couple of days of being nearly knocked over every time we opened the fridge, however, I could no longer put it off. I decided to roll up my sleeves and investigate.

One by one, I removed containers and plastic bags full of leftovers that someone had shelved away for later use. Most items were only a few days old and easily passed the sniff test.

Eventually, I found the culprit. There, on the bottom shelf in the farthest corner of the fridge, was a take-home container from a Chinese restaurant. That week-old beef and broccoli practically waved at me when I opened the container. I carried it to the garbage, relieved to have found the source of the stench but amazed at how badly one little container of spoiled takeout could stink things up. I resolved to pay closer attention to what I put in the fridge and to clean things out more often.

As I put everything else back in place, I realized that my heart is kind of like a refrigerator. It’s the home of all my emotions, feelings, desires, and motives. Just like I have to be mindful of the food that accumulates in my fridge, I must be careful with what I allow to accumulate in the compartments of my heart (Proverbs 4:23).

If I let the wrong things linger, my thoughts will spoil just like those leftovers. Before long, the stench of sin will permeate my life. People who care about me might even point out that I am becoming unpleasant to be around. And once it has been brought to my attention, I can’t ignore it, or I risk becoming offensive to God.

“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10 NIV). I whisper these words to the Lord in prayer almost daily. I ask Him to point out the areas of my heart that need His attention (Psalm 139:23–24). God is faithful and always responds to me with grace, mercy, and gentle correction exactly where I need it (Proverbs 3:12). Repentance is soothing to a heart that needs a good cleaning.

What’s hiding in your heart that has the potential to go rotten? What painful thing are you avoiding? Maybe it’s something you meant to address, but life got in the way and you forgot about it.

Whatever it is—past trauma, unforgiveness, anger—don’t avoid it any longer. Once that matter of the heart starts to spoil, it’ll stink, just like that week-old container of beef and broccoli.

If you’ve received Jesus Christ as your Savior, then He has wiped your heart clean of your sinful nature. Jesus did the hard work when He willingly laid down His life to forgive your sins. All you have to do is care for that heart by staying close to God and by seeking Him through His Word and prayer.

Invite the Holy Spirit to examine your heart. Ask Him to do regular, thorough cleanings. Ask Him to eliminate the things that keep you from fulfilling God’s purpose for your life.

You will reflect Christ more clearly to those you encounter, and you will carry the fragrant, pleasing aroma that God created you to carry (2 Corinthians 2:15).


CHRISTINA KIMBREL serves as VL’s production manager. Once incarcerated, she now ministers hope to those held captive by their past and current circumstances while sharing the message of healing she found in Jesus.