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Thursday, 30 July 2015

Ivy - and sin!

Today, I spent almost five hours in the front garden of our new home in Gardonne.  I knew that there was a well there - as in the front gardens of the next-door-neighbours on either side - and assumed that, like theirs, the top would be plain concrete.  I couldn't immediately tell, as it was covered with ivy - that virulent, pervasive climber that can choke the life out of a tree.  I recalled a little song that my late mother would sing when I was a child:

Dozy dotes, and maresy dotes, and little lamsy tivy.
A kidilee tivytoo, wouldn't you?

It was many years before I worked out that the strange language was really very simple:

Does eat oats, and mares eat oats, and little lambs eat ivy.
A kid'll eat ivy, too; wouldn't you?

I would have been delighted if some little lambs, and some kids (as in young goats!) had appeared, today.

However, as I gradually cleared the ivy from around the well-head, I realised that there were a number if similarities between ivy, and sin!  The first one that caught my attention was the way in which the ivy clings to its host - whatever that may be.  As I tugged, and pulled, I found it extremely difficult to get the stems away from the well-head.  I was reminded of the words of the inspired writer of the Letter to Hebrew disciples of Jesus: "Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith Who, for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God." (Heb.12:1-2; emphasis added).

That's one of the problems with sin.  The ivy around the well-head didn't all appear overnight.  It will have started as a small plant but, left unchecked, it grew stronger and stronger until it needed such great effort to remove it.  Few, if any, commit serious sins without having first committed sins that didn't really seem to matter.  I wonder if anyone has ever researched, e.g., a bank robber - and discovered that, years before, that person had stolen money from his mother's purse; that he had obtained employment, but had regularly purloined company funds; that he had mugged many a person, and stolen their wallet/purse!

Such criminal activity is, of course, a sin against the other person involved - the victim.  However, Judaeo/Christian teaching is that all sin is primarily against God.  David, the shepherd-king of Israel knew this.  Having entered into an illicit sexual relationship with Bathsheba; and having tried to cover his wrongdoing by having her husband killed in battle; he was confronted by the prophet, Nathan (see II Samuel 12).  He wrote a song to display his repentance and, in it, are these words: "For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.  Against Thee, Thee only, have I sinned, and done that which is evil in Thy sight, so that Thou art justified in Thy sentence and blameless in Thy judgment.   Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me." (Ps.51:3-5; emphasis added).

David now realised that he had sinned - and done so grievously - but he also knew that while both Bathsheba and Uriah had suffered, it was God's own character that had been besmirched!

You and I are both sinners - every bit as much as David.  We may not have committed adultery, or plotted the murder of another person, but we have broken God's law, and we deserve His just punishment.  That punishment is an eternity separated from Him.  That may not seem important to some, right now.  However, when they stand before His Judgement Throne, and are cast out of His presence, they will wish that they had listened to people like me!

Of course, there is a remedy!  In the Persona (see Great Words of the Faith; chapter on The Trinity) of the Son, He took the punishment that you and I deserve.  He paid the price, that we might go free.  Have you responded to His amazing offer of salvation?  If not, then why not do so right now?  You will find a couple of helpful links if you scroll down and, of course, if I can be of any assistance at that personal level, please do not hesitate to contact me via the e-mail address above.  Remember, like the ivy, the longer you leave it, the more difficult it is to deal with.

"Working together with Him, then, we entreat you not to accept the grace of God in vain.  For He says, 'At the acceptable time I have listened to you, and helped you on the day of salvation.'  Behold, now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation." (II Cor 6:1-2; emphasis added).

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