Tuesday, August 28, 2012


            It has been an extraordinarily dry summer in southern Minnesota. Usually I have to mow my lawn at least once a week at this time of the year. I really haven’t had much to mow for two months, except for weeds. My grass is brown and crisp, but the weeds are green and lush. Something is very wrong with this picture.

            I am already starting to think about winter. I decided that it was time to fill in the cracks in my driveway before the winter ice and snow make them even worse. In order to do this, I had to first get down on my hands and knees and pull the weeds out of the cracks. Weeds can grow anywhere, even in the cracks of asphalt. Some of the weeds came out easily, while others took quite a bit of effort. What I discovered, as I sweated in the hot sun, was that the weeds have long tap roots that go deep into the soil to draw up the moisture, as opposed to my grass, which has an extensive root system, but a shallow one.

            As I was pulling weeds I thought about the similarity of weeds and sin in our lives. We don’t have to do anything for weeds to grow. All we have to do is neglect them and they will flourish. Even in dry conditions the weeds will continue to do better than the grass. The same is true with sin. We don’t have to do anything to cultivate sin in our lives. We have a natural bent toward sin, so if we neglect dealing with our sin it will flourish. Especially in those times when we are spiritually dry, sin has a way of taking over.

            Paul talked about the struggle we all face with sin in Romans 7:14-20 (NIV). We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.  And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do--this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

            Weeds flourish because they have taproots that they drive deep into the ground. This allows them to draw up moisture that is unavailable to other plants. The longer a weed is allowed to grow, the deeper its taproot goes and the stronger it becomes. Some of the weeds I pulled had thin, spindly taproots, while others had taproots the diameter of a pencil. Sin is like that as well. Sin has a taproot that goes deep into our very souls. It draws its life from things that are hidden deep within us. The longer we allow a sin to remain unchecked the stronger that sin will have a hold on our lives. The bigger the taproot of sin, the harder it is to deal with.

            James warned us about this in James 1:13-15 (NIV). When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

            When you are pulling weeds, you need to try to pull out the whole root. If you break off the root or only pull off the top of the plant, the weed will grow back. You can even bury what remains of the weed, but in a very short time it will emerge again. Most of the time, we only deal with the symptoms of our sin. We see some obvious fault in our life and try to eliminate it. Soon we are faced with the same situation again, sometimes in an even stronger form. That is because we have not dealt with the root of the sin. If we deal with the surface issues, but leave the root intact, the sin will re-emerge. It is much harder to dig down and get at the root of a sin, but it is the only way to successfully eliminate it. Many times we will try to bury our sin, rather than deal with it. We hide it under good intentions or good works. But the sin continues to grow and influence our life. At some point it will push its ugly head back up through the soil of our good intentions.

            Physical weeds are one of the consequences of the Fall. To Adam he said, "Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, 'You must not eat of it,' "Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return." Genesis 3:17-19 (NIV) After Adam and Eve disobeyed God and ate of the fruit of the Tree of Good and Evil, God cursed the ground and caused it to produce weeds. We have been fighting the battle with weeds ever since. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God in the Garden, they opened the door for sin to enter the world. Sin has infected our world ever since. Every human being has fought the battle with sin.

            My neighbors use a lawn service that controls the weeds in their lawn. (Something, unfortunately, that is not in my budget.) It is not that they have no weeds, but they have far fewer weeds than I do. The good news spiritually is that Christ has given us the victory over sin. No longer are we slaves to our old sinful nature. We now have the power to resist sin and even uproot it from our lives. We will never to totally free from sin, until we stand perfected in His presence, but we can live lives no longer dominated by sin. Through Christ, we can have victory in this ongoing battle.

1 John 1:8-9 (NIV)
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

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