I have a general affinity for plant life. However, there are two plants that I absolutely cannot stand. One is poison ivy, for obvious reasons, and the other is Bermuda grass.
In case you have never had to battle Bermuda grass, let me regale you with my struggles. The grass is incredibly tenacious, grows anywhere the sun shines and at a rate that must rival bamboo. Once Bermuda has taken root, it is nearly impossible to ever be rid of it. Its growth is almost vine like, and it doesn’t just grow on the surface level of the earth. For good measure, it grows under the surface too. In fact, it can grow several feet below the surface. Don’t try to smother it with mulch or pine straw: that will help it grow even faster. It has crept into our sand box and has even slithered between boulders and into my flower beds. Most obnoxiously, we have to battle it all summer long to grow our vegetable garden.
Don’t get me wrong. My husband and I have put up a good fight. We’ve pulled, we’ve weeded, and we’ve even sprayed. For the last two years, we have covered our garden with a tarp for throughout the winter to starve the remaining Bermuda grass from receiving any light. Still, when we uncover it in the spring, tiny yellow tendrils are already popping out of the dirt. We’ve battled it throughout the summer – weeding, hoeing, and tilling to save our garden from its grasp.
A few years ago, I heard John Piper preach a sermon on sin. He likened sin to Bermuda grass. After the above description, I’m sure you can understand why this is a fitting analogy. Like sin, plucking Bermuda grass at the surface level seems effective in the short term. Over time, however, you find that the grass, like sin, has grown deep shoots, much deeper and hardier than you ever realized.
The longer I walk with Jesus, the more aware I become of my deep need for Him. There are layers to my sin. Sure, there are the surface sins that everyone sees. Then, there are the ones that are a little further buried: not as obvious, but just as insidious. In fact, some of the sins that grow the deepest roots may be ones that have been growing unseen for a very long time.
The sins of some people are conspicuous, going before them to judgment, but the sins of others appear later. I Timothy 5:24
I think about this analogy in the summer when I’m indignantly pulling Bermuda grass out of my flower beds and garden. While fighting to yank it out by the roots, I think, “Take that sin! Go back to where you came from!” It’s really great for anger management!
As hard as I try to pull my sin out by the roots, it is nigh to impossible on my own. No self-help strategy can get it done. Only Jesus’ blood can overcome it. Only by God’s grace are we able to flee temptation and not give in again to yokes of slavery from which Jesus has set us free. Sanctification is a long and painful journey, full of sinful weed pulling to make room for the good fruit that Jesus will grow in its place.
Pause: Spend a few moments thanking Jesus for the sin that He has forgiven in your life and for the ways that He is making you a new creation.
Renew: Take some time evaluating the sin in your life (the bad habits, faulty thinking, or ways that you hurt others). What are those surface sins that seem most obvious? Which sins are lurking further under the surface? If you have not already done so, confess these sins to the Lord.
Next: If there is a particular sin that the Lord has convicted you of, and that you are having a hard time mastering, consider finding accountability in that area – someone who has previously struggled with the same thing, a mentor, or a wise person in your life that will lovingly hold you accountable and pray with you as you do some uprooting.
May the Lord open your eyes to the depths of your own sin and the vastness of His righteousness and saving grace.
Pause, Renew, Next!