Sins that “sting like an adder” (or a yellow jacket…)
I walked outside to our back porch, looking for a toy that my kids wanted to play with. As I pushed past the outdoor table and chairs, I felt a very painful stinging sensation in my right ankle and knew that SOMETHING was attacking me. I immediately jumped off the porch, trying to get away from whatever insect was causing me such agony. It turned out to be a yellow jacket that had built a nest under one of the porch chairs.
If you’ve ever been stung by a yellow jacket, you will most likely agree that they are nasty critters with an incredibly painful sting. But, painful as it was, I assumed that once my ankle finally stopped throbbing, I would be fine. I’m not allergic, thankfully, but I had no idea that the worst was yet to come.
The next morning, my back started hurting. It was just uncomfortable at first, but by the end of the day I could barely walk. I realized that I must have wrenched it when I jumped off the porch, fleeing from the yellow jacket. It took 4 weeks and several chiropractic appointments for my back to finally feel normal again.
But that’s not all! Two weeks after I was stung, I noticed some bumps on and around the sting site that were red and very itchy. The next day, my entire ankle was swollen and itching terribly. Somehow, my sting had gotten infected, so I was prescribed a round of antibiotics and told to keep my foot elevated.
You know what the worst part of this whole ordeal was? It was the knowledge that it could have been prevented. You see, I KNEW the yellow jacket was under that chair – I had seen it the week before. I had done nothing about it, because I tend to have a “live and let live” attitude towards insects that are outside. As long as they don’t come in my house, I typically leave them alone if they leave me alone. What I had forgotten, though, was that yellow jackets are just plain mean and will sting with little to no provocation. If only I had gotten rid of it when I had the chance – before it stung me!
Sin in Our Lives
How many times do we do this with sin in our lives? We may notice it, but for whatever reason we don’t eradicate it. Perhaps we think it is small, trivial, and not worth our attention – until the day it stings us. I am not suggesting that it is possible to be completely sinless. We know that even as Christians we still sin and need God’s grace and forgiveness throughout our days on this earth. The question is: when we recognize a sin in our lives, what do we do about it? Do we take steps to try to remove it, or do we leave it alone and ignore it and hope it is harmless?
I know I have been guilty of this. I catch myself gossiping but think “It’s not so bad. I’m only saying the truth. If they don’t want me to talk about them, they should straighten up.” In doing so, I ignore the fact that gossiping hurts my trustworthiness. Anyone that I gossip TO will assume that they may one day be the one I’m gossiping ABOUT. Even if the things I am saying are completely true, what good am I doing by talking about it? James 1:26 says “If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.” Ouch! That stings.
“Social drinking” is something else I have flirted with in the past that I believed to be mostly harmless. I thought “As long as I don’t actually get drunk, one drink with friends won’t hurt.” I chose not to acknowledge the fact that even one drink lowers inhibitions, and often leads to “just one more…” Proverbs 23:31-32 says “Do not look at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup and goes down smoothly. In the end it bites like a serpent and stings like an adder.” It bites. It stings. I have felt that pain and have learned my lesson. But I could have spared myself a lot of heartache if I had heeded the warnings and removed the sin before it stung me.
There are many other “small” sins that I could write about that can have long-term, unpleasant consequences. Just as I did not foresee all the complications that would come from one little yellow jacket sting, we often do not see all the consequences that can arise from our failure to remove whatever sin has cropped up in our lives. We cannot always prevent a sin from building a nest in our hearts, just like we cannot always prevent a yellow jacket from building a nest under our porch chair. However, when we see it, when we notice it, when we acknowledge it, will we take action? Will we proactively squash it, or will we ignore it until it stings us?
Written by: Laura Kee
Laura is a wife and mother to two adorable children, Alaina and Tyler. In her free time, she enjoys singing, painting and running.