Although I love my next-door neighbor, I needed more than a wimpy strip of grass between her driveway and mine. So last Fall I hired a landscaper to replace the swath of grass with trees and shrubs. The first step was to kill the grass, then the guys went to work digging, planting and mulching. I carefully watered my new landscaping, worried over it when we had a late freeze, and these days enjoy watching the plants grow. What else is growing? Crabgrass. All throughout the area, I have been battling crabgrass.
Have you ever tried to dig up crabgrass? There’s a reason why it’s so difficult. The green, leafy part we see is just the beginning. Crabgrass grows from a network of strong, deep roots that spread laterally through the ground a couple inches below the surface. It’s tough to pull out completely, and when you do you see why: it’s all connected.
As I dug and pulled and sweated over the weekend, on my knees doing battle with crabgrass, I couldn’t help but think about sin. Sin. The word used to make me cringe, especially as a new believer. It is a tough concept for people steeped in an “anything goes” culture and who believe that we are all fundamentally good.
As a new Christian, I had to learn what sin is (falling short of perfection) and accept that I am a sinner (because I’m not God, I’m not perfect).
That was sixteen years ago, and how delightful it has been to discover that one of the most beautiful aspects of walking with God is how He continually, gently, and mercifully shows me where I’m sinning and helps to root it out. What I know now about sin is that admitting it and allowing the Lord to heal it is one of the most amazing ways to directly experience His glory, His mercy, and His blessings.
For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.
God forgave our sins through the justification and salvation of Jesus, but He didn’t then just walk away. No, God also cares deeply about conforming us to the likeness of Jesus by coming alongside us and transforming us. As we desire to be more like Jesus, He guides us and helps us. He pulls sin out by the roots and changes us, if we allow it. Confronting sin isn’t an exercise in humiliation and judgment, as I probably once thought. Rather, it is one of the amazing blessings of walking with God.
I’m speaking from experience here, friends. I struggle with my share of anxiety, resentment and wrong thinking. As I’ve battled these sins, God has gently lead me back to Him time and again. Shown me that He is all I need. That my trust falters when I don’t seek Him first. That His plan is so much better than mine. As I have prayed and He has provided, I find myself walking in freedom. Far from perfect–far from sinless–but ever closer to the One who is.
Unlike me, God doesn’t sweat and swear with the difficulty of getting all the roots out. He isn’t surprised when we fall short of perfection. He expects it. After all, Jesus died so that we could be forgiven of sin and walk with a perfect, sinless God. Yes, your sin is already forgiven by the power of the cross; now comes the invitation to walk confidently in that forgiveness.
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23-24
Today, take your sin before Jesus, even that problem that has been especially difficult. Ask God to not only dig up the obvious, outward evidence of sin, but to reveal and heal the wrong thinking that might have taken hold deep inside you. Believe me, He is able.