‘You’ve got the cleanest rubbish bins in the whole of the city’.
The Council employee grinned at the elderly lady as he replaced her bins on the nature-strip, and pressed the lids down. The big truck clattered behind them while the other workers emptied the bins from the opposite side of the normally quiet street.
Yes, my mother had a reputation to keep! Every week, she scrubbed her two small metal bins, placed any leftover meat bones in used cream containers with their lids firmly on, and wrapped all her other rubbish before placing it in the bins. It was a matter of importance to her. Garbage collection is different these days, with huge trucks and several types of bins: recycling, garden waste and everyday household rubbish.
My Dad had found those two bins somewhere and brought them home. He was the kind of person who patronised the Railway auctions. I had a small black umbrella from the same sale rooms. It fitted perfectly in my school case, which also came from there; likewise my tennis racket. I think my brothers’ push-bikes originated there. Why waste good things when you can paint them and save money? Someone had left them behind on the train and never enquired about them again.
Mum also swept up the autumn leaves from the footpaths in the next street. The neighbours appreciated her thoughtfulness. It’s amazing how some people prefer a clean environment and others couldn’t care less. She was also afraid that someone (perhaps herself!) might slip on those damp oak leaves. It was easier for the sun to dry the paths without the slimy leaf litter.
Recently one of our pastors spoke about the way the church property occasionally has rubbish lying around under bushes, and in the carpark. She asked the congregation, ‘Do you pick up papers when you see them on the church grounds?’ When no-one replied, she went on to say, ‘This property belongs to us all, and we should look after it’.
I glanced at my husband. He always picks up papers, lolly-wrappers, cans, and even tissues. Although I remind him to wash his hands afterwards, he takes no notice! He doesn’t like the church garden looking messy after he’s worked hard in it, raking up leaves and trimming the trees. The pastor also has a gardener’s heart and knows how much work goes into keeping it looking loved.
When I walked to the shops this morning, I noticed the papers, bottles, plastic bags and other rubbish scattered among the shrubbery. I wondered, ‘ Why don’t people use a bin or take it home?’ If I were younger, I’d pick them up myself.
Here’s something relevant I read in the Bible. If you’re one of those who litter, maybe you’ll ignore it, but if you care about the world we all live in, please take notice.
It is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy – 1 Corinthians 4:2.
Many people worry about rubbish in the environment, but how many also concern themselves with spiritual pollution in our world? That inner kind of filth is worse than papers in the bushes. We’ve been left in charge of the earth, and as much as we’re able, we’ll be wise to look after it. But are we contributing to the spread of evil principles? Are we speaking out against them? Or do we just let it slide? Do we teach our children to honour holiness by setting a good example for them and their friends? What kind of stewards are we? And are we loving the ‘inner earth’ and its people as God expects?