It was supposed to be a routine day working at Albertson’s.
Sweep up trash from the floor, put away stray carts, restock the occasional return – rinse and repeat. Then the manager appeared.
Guilt and apologies all over her face, she delivered a new task: clean the men’s restroom. It wasn’t the best job, but it was simple enough, right?
Wrong. The bathroom door swings open. Everything is covered in fecal matter.
The walls, the stall doors, the trash can. E v e r y t h i n g.
What would you do?
That story is not mine, thank God Almighty; it’s my brother’s. It’s one of those stories that is so disgusting you need to take a minute to process. It’s one of those stories that makes you want to pray and thank God simply because He did not choose you to carry that cross.
Judges 3 has one of those stories, too. It also involves fecal matter, believe it or not, but most importantly, it involves a faithful man named Ehud and a command from God.
And it also begs the question: why did God make someone do something so horrible in the first place?
Murder, He asked
The Israelites’ enthusiastic commitment to God from Joshua 24 did not last. Almost immediately, the Israelites started ignoring God and His laws, worshiping idols instead.
And they paid the price.
Nation after nation, king after king battles the Israelites into submission and rules over them. Godly man after godly man is directed by God to lead Israel into rebellion against their captors, and they win.
Captivity, victory, sin, captivity, victory, sin.
And then comes Ehud, the son of Gera. God commands Ehud to rescue the Israelites from their current captors, Moab, led by King Eglon.
So one day, Ehud takes a delegation of Israelites to see King Eglon. It’s tribute time (kind of like tax day), so it’s supposed to be a routine day: visit the king, deliver the tribute, head back, rinse and repeat next time.
But on the way back from the king, Ehud pauses. He tells the others to go on ahead. He goes back to the palace.
He tells Eglon that he has a special message for him from God. Unusual, sure, but innocent enough, right?
Wrong. Ehud stabs Eglon in the stomach. The Bible says “the [sword] handle sank in after the blade” and “his [Eglon’s] bowels discharged” (verse 22).
With Eglon dead in a pile of his own mess, Ehud leaves, locking the door behind him.
It’s, quite literally, disgusting. And morally, it’s horrifying to take a man’s life.
But it was also God’s will. After the king of Moab dies, the Israelites rise up and defeat the Moabites, taking back their land and their autonomy. “The land has peace for eighty years” (verse 30). Israel is saved.
Getting our hands dirty
Every now and then, I thank God that I live in 2021, and not in the B.C. Bible times described in this chapter. But modern life doesn’t mean that we are exempt from dirty work of our own.
God won’t ask us to kill someone, but He will always ask us to do things that we don’t like. Things that are uncomfortable. Things that might even be repulsive.
He’ll ask us to say things that people won’t want to hear. He’ll ask us to give up things that we love. He’ll ask us to cut off people that we are attached to. He’ll ask us to do things that we aren’t used to.
It won’t always be easy and it definitely won’t always be fun. Sometimes it’ll be downright gruesome. It’s dirty work in every sense of the word.
But it will always be for our good. God will always give us strength to do it. And He will always ask in love.
The ball is in our court. Will we do God’s dirty work?
“I love you too much to allow you to stay comfortable.”
The movies and TV shows would have you believe that when you love someone, you remove all obstacles from their path. You don’t want them to struggle or suffer or sacrifice.
Sometimes that’s true.
But a lot of times it isn’t. As much as we’d like to think so, we aren’t perfect. Not a single one of us is. We’re naturally selfish and lazy and self-centered.
And God knows that in order for us to grow, to change, and to really live, we need to do things that are hard.
It doesn’t feel right or fair or loving when we’re in the midst of it. But then we get to the other side.
We see how we’ve changed.
We see how our trust in God has deepened.
We see how we’ve started to love others better.
We see that God has saved us.
And it’s all evidence that there is no wisdom like God’s wisdom. There is no love like God’s love.
My brother cleaned that Albertson’s bathroom, and it was honestly character building for him.
So imagine the blessings, the strength, the benefit that comes when we roll up our sleeves and do God’s dirty work.
You ready? Let’s get to it.
What do you think? What dirty work is God asking you to do?