Recently I was working in my front yard when I saw a small weed growing up from under one the bushes planted along our sidewalk. Without hesitation, instinctively with no forethought and with no concerns I instantly bent down to pull this weed. This weed was small, seemingly insignificant and not much bigger than a large blade of grass. However to my sudden and painful surprise…..Gotcha….Ouch…..it had thorns!
I jerked my hand back quickly as I felt the prick of the thorn into my thumb. Boy it smarted. I looked closely at my thumb to see if I saw the thorn, but I didn’t. In fact, I could not even detect a puncture wound. Yet when I pressed on my thumb I felt a clear and sharp pain. Apparently some part of the small thorn had broken off in my thumb, leaving a feeling much like that of a sliver.
Almost instantly when this happened I knew this incident would make its way into a 4thdayletter. Why you might ask?The answer is because this situation reminded me of the sin in our lives. After the brief sudden poke of the small little thorn, the pain lingered in my thumb for nearly two weeks.
So it can also be with sin. Sometimes we act quickly, almost instinctively, without forethought, many times out of habit, and we sin. Perhaps it is an unkind word in an argument, maybe it is gossiping about someone, perhaps it’s that one simple click of the mouse on a junk email that takes you to pornography, perhaps it is simply indifference towards someone in need. But in all of these cases the sin seems so small. Yet, often times, as soon as we do it we feel the pin prick of pain in our conscience just like I felt the sudden pain in my thumb. And like the thorn, even though the sin may be small and even though we know God forgives us, it may leave lingering pain for weeks or longer like the thorn did.
So can anything good come out of my thorn incident? Sure it can. The next time I see a small weed I will hopefully recall the thorn and I will precede with more caution. Also this weed was under a bush. We occasionally have snakes on this mountain where I live. Carelessly reaching under a bush could have resulted in a worse situation. Instead of a small thorn I might have received a snake bite. Similarly the pain of a small sin might be just what we need to prevent us from a bigger sin.
The pain we experience when we use hurtful words in an argument with our spouse might cause us to be kinder the next time to avoid a more serious problem in our marriage. The pain of our gossip might stop us from doing more of it and might prevent us from really hurting someone. The pain someone causes themselves the first time they drink too much and act stupidly might prevent them from continually drinking and causing even greater pain to their family and others. The pain in one’s conscience when clicking on that emailed pornography might prevent this from becoming a habit that eventually leads to straying into an adulterous affair.
I named this email “A Thorn of Wisdom”. One basic definition of wisdom is: the making use of knowledge. The opposite of wisdom is folly. We should use these painful incidents as a reason to be more cautious next time. Our human nature itself may not “cause”sin, but once our human nature comes in contact with sin it may produce more sin, just like a flammable substance may ignite easily by a fire.
James 1:2-6 says this:
“Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. And let perseverance be perfect, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. But if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and he will be given it.”
James 1:14-15 goes on to say:
“Rather, each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire conceives and brings forth sin, and when sin reaches maturity it gives birth to death.”
There is no doubt that as humans we sin. If we persist in our sinfulness, we can cause our spiritual death. Let’s resolve to repent and seek forgiveness for our sins. Let’s learn from our past sins. We know God forgives us and I am sure all of us sometimes wish the pain we feel from past transgressions would go away. However, maybe we need to thank God for the pain we feel in our conscience when we sin and realize we can use this pain as a source of wisdom to avoid future and perhaps more painful sin.
Lord Jesus, we know you forgive our sins, thank you for the pain of our past sins. We know you came to save the lost. Lord when I do fall and cause myself the pain of sin, help me to learn from my mistake and avoid the next occasion to sin, Amen.