There’s “stour” on the main road between where we live and the county of Clackmannanshire. “Stour” is a great Scottish word, meaning “dust forming a cloud or deposited in a mass”. That aptly describes the mess left on the road by the constant procession of lorries moving the remains of coal mining in the West of Fife to somewhere else, a red dust that quickly coats every car panel and window. Vehicles quickly attract this dust and the process of removal requires rinsing, washing, rinsing again, with perhaps a periodic polish to build up a protective layer that will help remove the dirtiness next time. But it is easy to lose heart, as many do, because the next journey sees the return of “stour”. And those who fail to keep their vehicle clean are easily spotted – usually the number plate has acquired the same ubiquitous coating as that covering the rest of their pride and joy. Some even say that eventually the dirtiness plateaus (or is it plateaux) and doesn’t get any worse.

I think you know where I’m heading – our Christian lives can suffer from “stour”. Not a physical dust or grime, but a negative and sinful accumulation of rubbish picked up as we journey through life. Switch on the TV and watch the news – very little is “good”, most is “bad”. Adverts blast us with invitations to buy more, eat more, watch more; in fact very little of it is necessary. And around us the conversation easily lapses into unwholesome talk about others. And our own sinful lusts and passions add to the mix. So we need to regularly wash and rinse off the sinful “stour” that can so easily cover us. Two Scriptures come to mind. We have Ephesians 5:25b-26, ”Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word.” And also 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

But we cannot afford to lose heart and let the “stour” accumulate. We must constantly confess our sins, read the Bible, cleansing ourselves and, by so doing, building up a spiritual “polish” that can help prevent the sin from sticking; thus helping us as we journey towards perfection in a new life to come. Another helpful Scripture is James 1:12, “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.” And Hebrews 12:1, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”

So, fellow journeymen and women, let’s keep going in our Christian walk, not giving up. One day the coal bing will be gone and the accumulation of dirt will disappear. And so with us, one day we will be in the presence of Jesus, free for ever from the “stour” of human life.

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