The Roots of Sin
One day when we lived in Guyana we set to work on clearing some land that had become overgrown from years of jungle growth, with the hopes of planting some fruit trees in place of the weeds.
As I was clearing stumps on the property, I began thinking about the roots, and how difficult they have been to get rid of. Even some of the smaller ones seemed cemented into the ground! I soon realized the most stubborn roots would have to wait until my husband could come and help. The roots, some of which were very large, needed a stronger hand to deal with them; and still others I could tell would have to wait until we had the proper equipment to free them.
As I was working and tugging on the roots it made me think about the similarities between them and sin. Often the visible and outward signs of a particular sin can be overcome (the stump on the surface can be removed)…but the root may still be left deep within us. Especially, if we don’t take the time to do the hard work to completely eradicate all of its lingering effects. (Hebrews 12:15: Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled.) And, just like land that one day is cleared but soon after will need to be tilled, the root of sin can’t be left just below the surface to create trouble for the next step in our journey.
We may be tempted to think we can defeat a particular sin alone. But, just as it was with those “stubborn” tree roots; sin often requires someone with “bigger muscles” to help us do the heavy lifting! This kind of work demands the “strong arm” of God. Only with His help are we truly able to complete the work of getting rid of the roots of our sin. Sometimes that help is in the form of the Holy Spirit doing the heart work in us, and other times God has to send “better tools,” in the form of others to help guide us; give us wisdom; and counsel us on how to overcome the sin.
The Christian walk can start out like that piece of land we were trying to clear. Months ago, the land was full of trees, both fallen and still standing. Stumps of every size were just below a layer of weeds and razor grass (true to it’s name…it is sharp and it hurts!). Many of the fallen trees had been cut and burned years ago but the stumps (and roots) were never removed. As we came in, we had to start on the surface with what we could see, to even be able to move around on the property. My husband cleared the vines, small saplings and weeds with the weed trimmer while our son chopped anything and everything he could with his cutlass; while I raked up the piles of debris to be burned. It took our entire family to begin to see signs of progress!
This seems very similar to the Christian experience. In our infancy with Christ, it’s typical that our lives are cluttered from our past; our previous desires; and maybe even the debris of sins we have long before tried to clear in our own strength.
But, then (hopefully) we begin to allow Christ into our mess. Some Christians allow Him to clear away the big obstacles quickly; chainsawing the larger more visible “trees” or sins that can easily be seen. For others, they methodically try for a time to overcome their sin on their own. Inevitably though, traces and bothersome “stumps and roots” of what once was still remain; because alone they could never fully get to the root of the problem. And yet for others, they seek out more mature Christians to help them along their path, knowing they cannot make the transition alone. Just as it took our whole family to clear a small piece of land, this group sees that the large work of growing into a mature Christian is too much to do alone!
Praise the Lord, God is merciful to work with each of us—no matter which route we have tried (or continue to try). God will help to free us from the large glaring sins, and He will also patiently wait on those who struggle using their own merits until they exhaust their own means and are finally ready to seek His help. He is always willing, ready and able to assist us wherever we are on our journey! He even sends more mature Christians to the aide of those struggling to ensure they don’t have to walk the path alone. What a mercifully patient God we serve…to see our flaws and understand our weaknesses, and to always be willing to offer His “strong hands,” to shape and mold us, guide us, and help to grow us into the people He desires us to be!
“…I count not myself to apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13