One of the simplest ways to destroy a church is to put up a sign that says, “No Pruning Allowed!”

When you see slight deviations from the Word of God, little sins here and there – just let them alone. After all, they’re small. No big deal. Nothing to get up in arms about.

Ignore the words of James where he writes, “when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death” (James 1:15). Surely, that is an overstatement, even though he follows it up in the next verse with the warning, “Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren!”

The fact is, sin never stays the same size. Like a hardy vine, it grows, spreading its tendrils into all areas of life:

* A little gossip here, a little whisper there, and suddenly people’s reputations are destroyed, lies are spread, and relationships severed.

* A little pride here, a little conceit there, and suddenly preaching becomes a stage where the pastor is the celebrity.

* A little coveting here, a little greed there, and suddenly the church is sporting a new gymnasium while children go homeless on the streets outside.

There is a cure for that, of course. And that is to nip sin in the bud.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus talked about the seriousness of sin – even sins that look small to us. He said that anger was akin to murder. That lust was the same as adultery. Why? Because the big sins are inextricably linked to the small sins. No one ever murdered unless he was first angry. No one ever committed adultery before he first lusted in his heart. The cure? Nip sin in the bud – stop it before it has a chance to grow strong and bear its evil fruit in your life.

Jesus commanded sheer ruthlessness when it comes to dealing with sin. His words shake us to the core in Matthew 5:29-30:

“If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. If your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to go into hell.”

Are we willing to nip sin in the bud? Will we take whatever steps are necessary to root up evil and cast it out of our lives?

Until we are, our churches remain at risk. “Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren … when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.” Nip sin in the bud. Now.

© 2008 Paula Marolewski

Author's Bio: 

Paula J. Marolewski provides challenging and interactive adult Bible studies for individuals, Bible studies, small groups, and adult Sunday School classes at Sink Your Roots ( Studies include such topics as Debunking the Myths about Knowing God's Will. The site also offers free weekly Seedlings - “Little thoughts that grow big results.”