Numbers 15-16, Ecclesiastes 9:13-10:20
Since having cats, I’ve learned a lot about fleas, and I’ve also discovered how much I despise them.
It seems like no matter how often you vacuum, brush, and clean, they’re still around, wreaking havoc on your home and irritating the cats to near insanity.
They’re so diminutive and weak, yet they do such great damage to your household. Furthermore, they duplicate at an enormous rate, making containment next to impossible.
Obviously, the best way to keep fleas at bay is preventative measures. But once they get started, it’s hard to stop them — it takes a great deal of effort. But it also requires consistency and skill.
No, I don’t work for a pest control company, but I do know that pests exist, and that they continue to exist. And they must be treated as soon as possible.
We have to treat sin the same way — like any pest. We don’t like to, really. We’d rather wait until the problem goes away, or make some bold willful proclamation: “Lord, never again!” Yet the human will can be weak, and we quickly succumb to the old ways. Or we marginalize the problem: “It’s not THAT bad,” yet the evidence of a serious issue proves the contrary. It’s everywhere, and it’s multiplying.
But sometimes the resolution is only a small adjustment away:
10 If the ax is dull,
And one does not sharpen the edge,
Then he must use more strength;
But wisdom brings success.
Three concepts are brought up in this verse: strength, sharpening, and skill.
Brut force. If it isn’t working, you’re not trying hard enough. In Ecclesiastes 9:13-16, we hear a brief parable about a huge army being flattened by a small town’s wit. Last year, we covered our entire carpet with baking powder and salt hoping to get rid of the fleas. We just ended up with less money, less time, a clogged vacuum and minimal results. Trying harder is noble, but be careful not to waste your efforts.
Reading through a Wikipedia article about fleas, I discovered a couple of factors I hadn’t considered before: humidity and temperature. Fleas are pretty particular about this stuff. With some minor adjustments, the fleas have a terrible time surviving.
Does your axe need sharpening? A minor adjustment might make all the difference to eliminate particular sin altogether. Try some simple changes in your life and see what happens. It might require some sacrifice, but it’s worth it.
The only way you improve your axe-swinging skills is simply using your axe frequently.
A lot of Christians have lost their skills because they’re not practicing. Bibles are only pulled out once a week, prayer is a passing word or two, and love is absent altogether, stifled by pride and hatred. Do you want to eradicate the infestation once and for all? Be consistent.
A vicious, stunning scene takes place in Numbers where a rebellion arises, and some leaders begin questioning Moses’ office. God indeed gives the rebels a chance to cool off, but the fire only intensifies, prompting the Lord to lay down some real hurt. Without the persistent pursuit of righteousness, the whole nation could have quickly turned inside out.
Jesus stayed the course, too. Clearly we can’t “measure up,” but His steady walk all the way to the cross makes a nice example for ourselves.
What are some specific ways we can eliminate rampant sin in our own lives?