Monday, June 25, 2012

The Lawnmower Approach to Sin

Yesterday afternoon found me hobbling around the house, my big toe red, and throbbing.  By evening, I could barely walk without yelling at the children to watch out for mommy's foot!  On a whim, I brought the foot up to eye level.  Only then did I realize my symptoms weren't caused by an ingrown toenail but from a rose's thorn buried deep under flesh.

Digging it out would be painful.  But there wasn't another choice.  I couldn't treat the symptoms without treating the cause.  

Twenty minutes later, I unearthed a quarter-inch long sliver and began a day-long road to recovery.

Such an injury likely wouldn't have stayed in my mind had I not been recently working on my hopeless flower bed, trying to keep the hay field from reclaiming its property.  The bed's problem is similar to mine--what lies beneath the surface.

Try as I may, I've been failing to destroy the Alicia Bermuda runners that sprout up here and there among the pink roses and white verbena.  No matter how many times I mow them down or spray them with Round Up, they always come back. Husband tells me that if a single joint of a runner is left in the soil, it will take root and grow again.

The only remedy?   Dig it out.

Such is the advice Jesus gave in The Sermon on the Mount. When speaking of lusting after a woman in one's heart as being adultery,  He said, "If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell" (Matt. 5:29-30).

Dig it out.  Cut it off. 

Even an eye-less man can lust after a woman in his heart, so surely Jesus was not advocating maiming one's body.  Yet, He used such extreme language to demonstrate the seriousness of sin in our lives.

Even a nearly-invisible, quarter-inch long piece of sin is so destructive that if it were possible to chop off an arm or dig out an eye and remove sin in that manner, we would be better off doing so. 

Mutilation of the body, though, is not the way to dig out sin.

The only way is to take our sins before the Father, confess them, turn from them, and seek in the Holy Spirit's power to commit them no more. God alone has the power to help us dig out the roots of sin in our lives.

The problem is, especially with sins we deem "small" or insignificant, we want to take the lawnmower approach to them.  We want to mow over the top, eliminating any visible evidence of sin in our lives so that we look holy, righteous, blameless in the eyes of our fellow man. 

But the problem is we never take the sin seriously enough to dig out the roots.  As a result, one week, one month, one year later, that root breaks through the surface again.

Paul admonishes Christians to "Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.  Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.  You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived.  But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips" (Col. 3:5-8).

Put it to death.

Dig it out.

Putting aside sin isn't easy.  It's painful to dig out something so deeply embedded in the flesh.  But as Christ sought to show us, the eternal consequences are much more severe should we choose to let it remain in our lives.

No comments:

Post a Comment