Tag Archives: Sin

Paint Pigment and Sesame Street

24 Oct

(The following excerpt is taken from “Retail Ready: 90 Devotions for Teens in the Workforce”, available for purchase on Kindle for $7.99 or in print from Amazon for $9.99.)

Read: 1 John 1:5-10

“All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.” – Isaiah 64:6

I was terribly excited when my first employer decided to teach me to mix paint.  I had spent plenty of time watching the other employees use the fancy color matching machine, gazing over their shoulders with fascination as they added pigment to the white base inside of the paint cans, creating an exact match for the color which our customers had chosen.

Perhaps it was thanks to my intense interest that I picked up on the process quite easily.  In a very short period of time, I had taken to mixing colors like a pro and was feeling pretty confident in my skill.  There was, however, one warning which they had inadvertently forgotten to share and the mess which resulted from my lack of understanding was about to have a noticeable affect upon my weekend.

It was a busy Saturday afternoon and I had retired to the back to mix up a gallon for a customer.  Unfortunately, it turned out that the last person to use the machine had not cleaned it properly and the pigment nozzles were clogged.  It didn’t seem to matter how much pressure I applied to the levers, I could not get the small metal tubes to squirt out any pigment at all.  Digging through the supplies, I found a nail and began to follow the prescribed procedure for clearing the nozzles.  Shoving the nail up into the tiny hole, I pulled it out again with a wad of dried pigment attached.

Unfortunately, the aforementioned wad of pigment was not all that was in the hole.  The wad had formed a sort of scab on the end of the nozzle, preventing some of the liquid pigment involved in the previous mixing from leaving the chamber.  When the wad was removed, this liquid pigment saw its opportunity to escape and, within seconds, my hands, arms, and shins were covered in a shade of blue that would have made a Muppet proud.  (To this day I do not recall how I managed to get the pigment all over me like that.)  I finished mixing the paint and, while it was in the shaker, I wandered into the bathroom to wash off the mess. And it was here that I discovered that pigment is less like paint and more like permanent dye.  Thanks to this, I spent the rest of the day and a good part of the next week looking just like Grover from Sesame Street.

Scripture teaches us many truths about sin and, one of the most important is that, like paint pigment: it doesn’t take much to cause a great deal of damage.  While the stain of paint pigment eventually does disappear through time and exposure, the stain of sin isn’t quite so “easy” to remove.  The Bible tells us that only the cleansing blood of Christ is strong enough to remove sin from our lives and return us to our intended state!

Challenge: Are you indulging sin in your life?  Remember that God’s rules are there to protect us.  Confess your failures to God, let Him remove the spots, then commit to living a life of obedience to His Word.

It’s Like Driving a Car

2 Mar

I’ll never forget my first “Driver’s Ed” experience. Barreling down the street at an excessive 20 mph, my knuckles white with fear as I attempted (just barely) to keep the car on the road. Images of my early years on a bicycle flashed through my mind, leaving me to wince every time the vehicle passed a mailbox. These menaces of the pavement seemed no less a threat now that I was surrounded by half a ton of metal and, in my head, I could see myself careening headlong into them, leaving a trail of destruction in my wake.

“What are you looking at?” my instructor asked, grabbing the wheel and steering me back towards the road.

“The mailboxes,” I replied, sheepishly avoiding his gaze.

He pointed, drawing my attention back towards the road. “Don’t. The car will go wherever your eyes focus. So focus on where you want the car to go.”

The advice was sound and applies as readily to the Christian walk as it does to driving a vehicle: our lives (and our Gospel dialogues) will always head in the direction of our focus. If our focus mirrors Paul’s instruction to the Hebrews to, “[fix] our eyes on Jesus” (Hebrews 12:2), we’ll do just fine. But if it doesn’t… watch out!!

It shouldn’t surprise us that one of Satan’s favorite “distraction” tactics is to repeatedly draw our attention away from Christ by shifting our focus to the evil which surrounds us. And, like the mailboxes lining the road, that evil often lies very near to the path which we ought to be traveling.

You’ve probably already experienced this particular distraction at least once or twice when dealing with someone who’s behavioral patterns are very visibly in contradiction to Scripture. Perhaps they boast of their sexual conquests, swear every third word, or participate in the occult. For most Christians, consistent exposure to sin is distinctly uncomfortable and it is easy for us to begin focusing so much on the sin that we lose sight of both the sinner and the Christ who offers them Salvation! The results are almost inevitably disastrous!

In order to eliminate their discomfort, many Believers will simply run from the awkward person or situation. We generally justify this as “fleeing sin”, however, if fleeing sin means that we have nothing to do with anything that is tainted by it, we’d better flee from ourselves as well! Sin is a part of the world we live in and will be until the end of time, so running from anything and everything that displays this unfortunate reality won’t do us much good… and it definitely won’t result in opportunities to share the Good News with lost souls! Paul’s reminder to Timothy is just as valid for us as it was for him:

“…God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:7)
The truth is, we have no reason to fear, even when those whom we encounter seem to be very directly within Satan’s clutches.

“You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)

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