"... But if you refuse to do what is right, watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master." Genesis 4:7b (NLT)
My friend Wendy brought her children and their friends to my house for several hours of play in the backyard pool. Wendy and I chatted while the children entertained themselves.
Young Griffin played for a while, but then his curious mind led him away from the pool. He wasn't interested in the games the other children wanted to play. Following his heart, he crept out of the pool and found purpose strolling around the yard.
For a few minutes he handed branches to my husband who was doing yard work. Then he picked up a rake. In no time he began to change the landscape to create a little "home" for my dog. First he cleared a path, then he piled leaves creating a soft bed. Finally, he set stones in place creating a protected space for the food dish and water bowl.
What an industrious boy! He amazed me with his vision, strength, and positive attitude. I wanted him to come live with me - surely his presence would keep the atmosphere in my home lively. I remember thinking, "What a good boy!"
When he completed his project he asked, "Would you like to see what I did?" In single-file we followed him, listening attentively as he pointed out each accomplished task.
Then I spotted it. I never expected to find what I stumbled upon while admiring my newly landscaped yard. My delighted heart turned to dread, for there surrounding all of Griffin's hard work ... was poison ivy! My stomach flip-flopped.
Without suspecting, Griffin had walked through a bed of nasty plants. Never mind that he was involved in good works or that he had done nothing wrong. He hadn't purposefully stepped into a dangerous place. It just so happened that the vine had crawled along the ground, hid under dead leaves and climbed tree trunks, all the while camouflaged by other clingy vegetation.
I grabbed Wendy and told her to get Griffin into the tub. Mixing a concoction we hoped would bring relief from days of dreadful itching, we doused that innocent boy. We rid him of any residue that might leave its painful mark.
The encounter with the poison ivy reminded me that we step out each day with a plan to accomplish goals. We may set out to do good things, to change the world, and to serve others. But Scripture warns us we must be on our guard.
Genesis 4:7b tells us sin crouches outside our door, waiting to trip us up, grab hold of us and spread its poison all over our best-laid plans.
We need to recognize what potential sin lurks around us. You could bring dinner to a friend who just had a baby and see how her husband dotes on her. Envy pounces on you and takes hold of your heart. Or maybe you invite a co-worker who has been down to lunch. Your innocent conversation turns to gossip about other office members.
Even a minor brush with sin can leave its poisonous mark. That's why we have to be on guard and control sin before it controls us.
To get rid of the poison ivy in my yard I took the best approach. I tore it out of the ground by its roots. The same is true for sin. Even with the best intentions, sin hurts us. The good news is, whether we brush up against it accidentally or intentionally step into it, God offers an effective means of healing. We can bring our injured hearts to Him, confess our part in the sin, and ask Him to rid us of the toxins.
Thankfully, God is the best "gardener" when it comes to keeping our hearts safe. No matter what "poison ivy" lurks, He's ready with a remedy of His wisdom when we ask for it. And His forgiveness for when temptation turns to sin.
Dear Lord, You have taught me many lessons about sin. I know its seriousness, and how it prowls around seeking to destroy me. I know first-hand how easily we can fall prey to its creepy deception. Please forgive my sins and give me the wisdom to recognize sin ahead of time and flee. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Reading and memorizing Scripture is a great deterrent from sin. The Proverbs 31 Ministries' team has unpacked verses through devotions interspersed throughout the new NIV Real-Life Devotional Bible for Women.
Reflect and Respond:
Soldiers prepare for the enemy by learning their foe's tactics. Take time to recognize the schemes of the enemy.
In what areas does Satan tempt you and into what sins do you easily fall?
2 Corinthians 7:1b, "... let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God." (NASB)
Titus 2:14, "He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds." (NLT)
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Proverbs 31 Ministries
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