“A Fool’s Mortification” (1)

An Allegory, by Mike Murrell

There once was a wise man travelling on an adventure who was tasked with delivering food to a church. Strolling along a path next to a lake of murky waters, he noticed a tiny little worm-like creature submerged in water with its head sticking out. It was waving back and forth as though he were dancing. After the creature grabbed the man’s attention, he began to speak, asking him for a bit of food, for the creature was desperately hungry. Though the food the man had was supposed to be for the village people, he figured that since it was just a tiny little worm, he’d only need to give him a tiny bit of food to be satisfied. He broke off a tiny little crumb of the food and fed it to the creature. Suddenly, the creature grew double in size! The creature then asked for more food, and the man fed him a little bit more, and it doubled in size again. This process continued, and as it grew, the creature’s appearance became more pleasing to the eyes and its voice more sweet to the ear. It would keep asking for more, for the creature’s appetite was never satisfied.

As the creature continued to grow, the man became more enchanted by it. The wise man soon realized that if this creature grew any more, it would be strong enough to kill him and take all his food. So, hesitantly he said, “No more.” The creature replied back, “Mooore.” The wise man replied more firmly. “No more!” The creature with anger screeched, “MOOOOORE!” So the man clenched his sword and yelled, “NO MORE!” Suddenly hundreds of creatures, all the same size and appearance poked their heads out of the water, all asking for more. As he drew out his sword, the ground shook and loud thunderous roars sounded through the lake. Out came a huge monster-like creature. What the man initially thought was a worm-like creature, was actually just a single strand of hair on this beast, and as the hair grew in size, so did the entirety of the beast. In one large gulp, the beast swallowed the wise man whole.

The wise man’s name was fool, for folly does not escape even the wisest of men. With great wisdom comes also the temptation to be wise in your own eyes. The beast’s name was sin, and the food the man fed him with was time. Had the man spent his time in the service of his church instead of on the fleeting pleasures of sin, he would not be stuck in the belly of the beast. Had he not fed the beast even once, the beast more quickly could have been slain. Yet with each succeeding moment, he thought he was in control of situation, making the beast twice as hard to slay. The fool says in his heart, “I will sin this one time and no more.” The fool says in his heart, “I will tread the paths of temptation just a little bit. It’s okay, I can get off the path when I feel temptation rising too much.” The fool says in his heart, “It’s okay, I can just easily repent afterwards.”

by Mike Murrell

Rooting Out the Weeds of Sin

At the beginning of this summer, my family and I decided to plant a garden. We started out with really good intentions, motivated to keep it watered, weeded, and fertilized in hopes of harvesting a healthy crop of produce.  That went well for a few weeks. At the beginning, my siblings and I would walk out to the garden with watering cans and manually water our thirsty plants. Every week, I would step into my boots, get down on my hands and knees, and carefully pick any semblance of a weed that could be rearing its ugly head near my plants, threatening to deprive them of sunlight and nutrients.

But that didn’t last very long. Eventually the excitement wore off. School started and life got busier. No one wanted to go out and pick weeds anymore. Soon small weeds began to sprout alongside our flowering plants. They grew bigger and bigger, feeding off the nutrients meant to nourish our plants. Eventually those small sprouts weren’t so small anymore. They grew into huge weeds towering above struggling plants, soaking up their sunlight and water, slowly choking them out.

After just a few weeks of neglect, the garden we started with such good intentions has become so overgrown that hardly anyone dares venture into it to pick what fruit there is to harvest. The weeds have taken over so much that the thought of bringing back the neat, tidy garden we started with is too daunting to even consider.

This story about my family’s garden teaches a lesson that can be applied to our spiritual lives. Our hearts are like that garden and those weeds are the sins that creep into our lives, seeking to choke out a healthy love for God, zeal for spiritual things, and desire to walk in a new godly life. So often we start out with great intentions, motivated to keep God’s law, fight our sins, and walk holily. But soon tiny little sins creep into our lives. They may not seem like a big deal at first, and we might initially stamp them out. But eventually we grow weary. Our motivation runs thin and we get caught up in the busyness of life and the pleasures of the world. We forget to fight those little sins, or we just don’t care enough anymore. Besides, they’re just little sprouts; they can’t do much harm. Until we turn around and find that those small sprouts have grown into massive flowering weeds. By then it’s too late – those weeds of sin are so deeply rooted in our hearts and lives that we don’t even know where to start to root them out.

This illustration should serve as a warning to me and to you about the pervasive nature and power of sin in our hearts and spiritual lives. If we do not remain vigilant weeding out those small sins that persistently make appearance in our lives, they will take root and grow exponentially until they are choking out the good fruit of sanctification in our lives. How much easier isn’t it to pluck out those small sprouts when they first appear than to pull up the deep roots of a full-grown flowering weed?

But if and when we do allow those weeds to take root, we must not despair, thinking there is no hope and all is lost. Christ has given us His Spirit, Who strengthens and renews us in our godly walk. Constantly we must be examining our hearts and lives for sins that may be taking root so we can weed them out. With the power of the Spirit, we can and do fight against those sins, plucking them up at the root and tilling our garden back into neat rows. The life of the child of God is a constant battle against our sinful flesh, but we are not alone. “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world” (I John 4:4).

Anna Langerak

Cancerous Sin

Cancer.

Such a small, simple word, and yet it has the ability to strike fear in our hearts the instant we hear it. The dreaded news of it halts our lives in a moment, turns our world upside down. It often comes as a death sentence, taking family members, close friends, and loved ones. It is accompanied by pain, tears, sorrow, and often death.

Sin.

Does this word have the same effect on us? When we hear it, think about it, and see it in our lives, do we flee from it as urgently as we do from terminal illnesses such as cancer? Cancer can take our physical lives, but that’s where its power reaches its limit. Sin’s devastating effects penetrate much deeper than the physical. It eats away at and destroys the soul. It pulls us away from the sole source of everlasting life and results in spiritual death. The Bible speaks of this in multiple passages:

“Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Romans 5:12).

“For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).

“Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death” (James 1:15).

Sin is described in the Bible very similarly to cancer. Cancer often begins as a relatively small mass, yet remaining unchecked it metastasizes throughout the entire body until it has completely taken over. Sin is much the same way. One sin in our lives leads to another, which results in many more. That is why sin is often described in Scripture as leaven – it may begin as one small, seemingly insignificant sin, but it will spread until it has permeated the whole of our lives.

“A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump” (Galatians 5:9).

“Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us” (I Corinthians 5:6-7).

What is our reaction when we see sin and the effects of sin in our lives? As soon as we receive news of cancer, our immediate response is to want to fight it with everything we have without delay. We allow harmful drugs to be injected into our bodies in an attempt to erase the cancerous mass. We even allow surgeons to cut into our flesh and remove entire vital organs in order to rid ourselves from the malignant cancer. We flee from cancer. We want nothing to do with it. As soon as it makes an appearance we battle it with everything we have until we have destroyed it and there is no trace of it left.

Is that how we react to sin in our lives? Do we hate it and flee from it with as much conviction as we ought? If we convince ourselves that we can hoard just one little sin in our lives, that is not possible – it will inevitably multiply and reap destructive fruits. All it takes is a little leaven – one “little” sin. Sin brings death – spiritual death. How much more precious is our spiritual life and communion with God even than earthly life itself!

Anna Langerak