Why Fish Stink

If you’ve caught a fish, or been around fishermen, you don’t forget that smell. When my dad and I went fishing, mom made us clean our fish and take our clothes off outside so the stench wouldn’t get in the house.

We’d stink too if we swam around in noxious, toxic water all day. Fish stink until they die and get cleaned up. Then they become tasty fish filets or crunchy hush puppies or fish nuggets.

Many Christians and non-church goers think they smell too bad to join a church family. The guy who heads up our decision counseling ministry at our church talks to folks every week who think they stink.  He said the most frequent reason (excuse) people give him for not coming to church, or joining, is they need to get cleaned up first.

They say they have some sins or bad habits they want to get rid of before they make any commitments to church. That is diametrically opposed of what the Bible teaches about sanctification. If those reluctant souls looked around and smelled some other folks, they’d discover that some others smelled worse than they smelled. That’s why we go to church–to allow Jesus and the Holy Spirit to clean us up.

It’s also opposite of how fishermen teach others how to fish. They teach students to catch the fish first, then clean them. It’s hard to clean fish when they’re swimming around in the water.

Lots of smelly fish in our pews each Sunday swim around thinking they’re unworthy to receive God’s love. And they probably feel they’re not good enough for God to catch them, let alone clean them. That’s because they don’t understand sanctification or their true identity in Christ.

God is willing and eager to clean us up. When Christ and the Holy Spirit come to live in us, cleaning us up becomes their job. It’s called sanctification. Sanctification is the work of the Holy Spirit in us to transform our minds, hearts and spirits and conform us to the image of His son, Jesus. To help us act, think and feel more like Christ. To help us learn to love each other, pray, forgive each other, and treat each other kindly.  Compared to fishing, sanctification is like scraping away the scales, cutting away the tail and the head, gutting it, and de-boning it, cutting away the useless stuff. What’s left are tender, tasty and clean fish filets that satisfy our appetites.

Those smelly-fish church goers who don’t know their true identity in Christ don’t feel accepted by God. They feel unworthy. They think they have to work to earn God’s approval. If they do something bad they think God will punish them or make them suffer for their sins. In Ephesians 6:10 Paul says believers are, “God’s workmanship (masterpieces) created in Christ Jesus to do good works…” 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “therefore, if anyone is in Christ (which all believers are) he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”

That doesn’t sound fishy to me at all. Are you going to believe what you think or feel, or are you going to believe what God says about you?

About Steve Sawyer

God blessed me with the gift of writing. Mom told me I wrote paragraphs in second grade when others were learning to write sentences. I spent more than three decades in professional writing gigs. For the past eight years I've combined my passion for writing with my love for the Lord. He and I write a Christ-centered, family-friendly blog to glorify God Monday-thru Friday at https://stevensawyer.wordpress.com/. My wife and I have four grown children and two precious granddaughters we co-parent with their mom. I'm a Galatians 2:20 disciple of Christ seeking to allow Christ to live His life in me, through me, and as me.
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7 Responses to Why Fish Stink

  1. writinggomer says:

    Great post! This makes me think of the twelve! If Jesus choose them to head up the church, the rest of us will be alright as well. Choose Jesus, choose to believe!

  2. ptl2010 says:

    Never thought of sanctification with cleaning smelly fish… good analogy.
    What can wash away my sins? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
    What can make me whole again? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

    • Steven Sawyer says:

      God gave it to me. He has been flooding my brain with clever ways to explain the gospel lately. Tomorrow I’m posting a blog that says, “Leave God Alone”. Thanks for all your encouragement and kind words. I love it here on ChristianBlessings.

  3. granbee says:

    Jesus came to the sick, the “stinky”, not the well. He is the Great Physician. HE will clean us up good and proper. He is like a bar of homemade lye soap. He cleanses inside and out!

    • Steven Sawyer says:

      So true, granbee. He’ss the only way we’ll ever get cleaned up. Never spotless while we’re still down here in our earthsuits, but He sees us as righteous and holy now through the blood of Jesus.

  4. Excellent post! I love the analogy of stinky fish. My immediate and extended family members all love to fish, so I can relate to this post very well. Thank you for sharing!

    • Steven Sawyer says:

      Thanks for the response. I know many people who still think they stink and won’t commit to go to church. Sad.
      Glad your family likes to fish. I do too but have not done it in years. But I can still smell them. :>)

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