Tag Archives: sin

Catching the Germs

Catching the Germs

Our grandkids were with us for a few days. We love it when they come! But this time two of them had coughs and runny noses. We found ourselves hugging them a little more carefully, snuggling a little less and basically trying to love them without getting too close. After all we didn’t want to catch their germs or contract their viruses. Then we’d be coughing and blowing our noses.

I take some comfort in the fact that I know we’re not alone in this defensive behavior. How often have you:

  • fist bumped rather than shaken hands because the other person had a cold?
  • silently thought, or perhaps quietly verbalized “I wish they’d cover their mouth when they cough?”
  • cringed on an airplane because the person across the aisle kept coughing or sniffling?
  • stayed away from visiting someone because they were ill?
  • wanted to wear a mask to keep from inhaling germs?

Let’s face it. We do our best to avoid catching the germs. But after the grandkids had left the Lord spoke to me. He said, “Think about Jesus.” I said, “Okay. I’m thinking. Now what?” He replied, “Aren’t you glad He didn’t avoid our germs?” Then it hit me. Jesus did everything He could to catch my germs and contract my virus. He did everything He could to make my sin His.

When God His Father asked Him to come down to earth He didn’t say’ “But Father, I might catch their sin germs. I might get dirty. Can’t I wait until they’re better?” Rather “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” (John 1:15) He made His dwelling not near people or close to people but among them. He touched them. He hugged them. He hung out with them.

Why? Because He knew the only way to heal us was to die on a cross. So He needed – and wanted – to catch our sin so He could nail it to the cross. The apostle Paul put it this way:

He didn’t just carry our sins – He became our sin. He caught our germs, He contracted our disease, He was covered with our dirt.

Think about it. He took up all our sin – from the beginning of time until the end. He was covered with every sin that had been committed and every sin that would be committed. It means He carried our germs, our sins.

Tom Cruise starred in the movie called Minority Report. It was about an elite police task force that routinely arrests people who will commit crimes in the future – in other words, this force could see the future and they arrested people to prevent crime from happening.

It makes me wonder what God sees when He looks into my heart. What sins did He see in me as He hung on the cross dying for me? Knowing full well what was in my heart, knowing fully all the times I would come up short and miss the target, still He loved me and died for me.

And it’s true for you as well. Consider: what sins did He see in your heart?  Knowing full well what was in your heart, knowing fully all the times you would come up short and miss the target, still He loved you and died for you.

Words cannot really express the wonder and magnitude of what Jesus did for us. Perhaps our best response is to follow the admonition and encouragement of the author to the Hebrews:


Good Roots

Before last week’s 50th reunion reflections I considered “Those Never-Ending Weeds” and “More About Those Weeds.”

I wrote that there was one more weeds blog to come. This is it. The question that crossed my mind in identifying and uprooting those weeds was “How do I identify and uproot the weeds in my life?”

The answer is “Develop a good root system.” A strong root system crowds out unwanted growth. The prophets repeatedly told the Israelites how to do so. When they spoke to the nation about sin their most frequent opening statement was something akin to “The Lord spoke to me” or “The Lord our God says.” It was their way of reminding God’s people that the only way to identify the sinful weeds was to look at our lives from the eyes and heart of God. Jesus demonstrated this principle during His temptation in the wilderness. Each time Satan tempted Him Jesus responded “It is written…” (Matthew 4:1-11). He evaluated the tempter’s offers through the lens of God’s words. That’s why the Psalmist wrote, “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” (Psalm 119:11) He understood that we identify the weeds only when the Word of God has taken root in our hearts. A strong root system crowds out unwanted growth.

When we look at our lives from the perspective of God’s Word we see more clearly that the foundation of most every sin is pride. In my book “7 Habits of Highly Healthy People – Antidotes for the 7 Deadly Sins” I pointed out, “As William Barkley wrote, ‘Pride is the ground in which all other sins grow.’ Think about it. Pride grows:

Envy – we are unable to permit the success or excellence of another
Anger – we cannot tolerate those who frustrate our plans, purposes, and desires
Greed – we need to possess more to be worth more and impress more;
Lust and Gluttony – we need to satisfy ourselves (or escape from ourselves)
Sloth – we lack love for ourselves and others

Pride is at the root of all of these sins. Pride is a powerful sin… “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.””(Proverbs 16:18)

Only when we have a good root system deep within our hearts can we spot our pride that leads to other sins. So with the Psalmist we need to hide the word within our hearts. The author of Hebrews described the dynamic vividly when he wrote “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”

I’m learning how to identify and somewhat control the weeds in our yard and garden. In doing so I’m also re-learning how to do the same in my life. I’m recommitting myself to hiding the Word in my heart that I might not sin. A good root system will do the job.                           As Psalm 1:1-3 paints the picture: “Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers.” Good roots – blessed life. Sounds like a plan.



More About Those Weeds

As I mentioned last week, yard work led me to think about weeds. I’m still thinking about them – because I now realize I missed some. The problem is I didn’t know, at first sight, that they were weeds. They looked like flowers – pretty, colorful flowers.

I asked my wife (the real gardener in the family) – and even she couldn’t always tell if something was a flower or weed. It left me wondering “How can something so pretty be a weed? How can something so attractive be bad? Why can’t we just leave them there – they’re so pretty!”

Let’s face it, weeds can be deceptive.

Then it struck me. Weeds are just like the devil. He, too, is deceptive. He is, in fact, a master of deceit.  “And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world.” (Revelation 12:9 RSV) To be deceptive is to intentionally misrepresent reality in order to gain an dishonest advantage over others. It’s like the national or international company that wants our opinion or money but knows many of us won’t answer an 800 or 888 number. So it uses a local phone number to trick us into answering. It’s deception.

We first see this deceptiveness in the Garden of Eden. Satan made sin look appealing by saying to Eve, ““You will not certainly die…For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”” (Genesis 3:4-5) Such knowledge sounded wonderful. But it was masterful deception. Eve would not die – physically – and she would know good and evil – in ways she had not imagined possible. But such knowledge was not good; it was destructive. “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.” (Proverbs 16:25) Deception.

Satan tried it again when he tempted Jesus in the wilderness. He told Jesus that He would have all the glory and splendor of the kingdoms of the world if He would simply worship Satan. Deception. Jesus could gain the glory and splendor, but He would only gain authority over the kingdoms of the world through obedience to His Father.

Another deceptive tactic the devil uses is to encourage the use of synonyms for sin. People do not ‘sin.’ Rather, someone makes a ‘mistake’, a ‘blunder’ or a ‘bad decision.’ A person has ‘shortcomings,’ a ‘weakness’ or an ‘infirmity.’ Someone makes an ‘error in judgment.’ And so it goes. You can change the label on a bottle of poison to read ‘Fruit Punch,’ but it it doesn’t change the poison. Deception.

No matter how pretty they may be, the deceptive weeds must be identified and uprooted – lest they take over and destroy the good flowers or the lawn. And now with each ‘beautiful weed’ I see I’m reminded there are many beautiful weeds all around my life that also need to be identified and uprooted. How we do so – that’s for next week’s blog. In the meantime, let’s not despair. “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

Those Never-ending Weeds

Every year it’s the same routine. In the spring my wife and I get busy digging up the weeds – roots and all. We even make sure there’s adequate mulch to help choke out future weeds. After many hours and the accompanying aches and pains, we rejoice in looking at mostly weed-free gardens, trees and shrubs. It’s a scene of beauty and a sense of accomplishment.

But the positive emotions are guarded and restrained – because we know what’s coming. We’ll wake up some future morning and see more weeds – seemingly popping up out of nowhere overnight. Then, after grumbling for days – and sometimes weeks – about how quickly weeds appear and grow and how slowly trees, plants and shrubs grow, and about how no matter what we do we can never completely eliminate the weeds, we get back to digging up the weeds.

It’s amazing – no garden or lawn is exempt. Over the years we’ve learned that wherever there is dirt, there will be weeds. And as I was digging up weeds again this past week it hit me – the reoccurring weeds are a parable of my life. Unwanted weeds keep popping up not only in the dirt, but also in my life. The weeds are the unwanted habits, thoughts and tendencies – the sins – that I try so hard to root out of my life only to have them reoccur on their own schedule. This, too, leads me to grumble about why I can’t keep these weeds down and eliminate them completely.

That’s why I’m so grateful for the apostle Paul. Addressing the Roman Church centuries ago, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he wrote about these weeds: “I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it. I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong.” (Romans 7:18-21 NLT) Every time I read those words I wonder if Paul has read my diary! And none of us is exempt.

It would be easy to give up and be miserable. As Paul laments “Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?” (Romans 7:24) But he continues: “Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 7:26)

I am still frustrated that these sinful weeds keep reoccurring but my guilt is relieved. Jesus has taken care of the power of the weeds. They will always be short-lived. And He supplies me with the only weed killer I need: “But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you…And Christ lives within you …the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God. The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.” (Romans 8:8-11)

I’ll never look at weeds the same again. Oh, I’ll still grumble and complain about them. But I will also thank God who through Jesus has given me all I need to fight the weeds in my life.