While it was still young and manageable, a tree planted in the middle of our small backyard provided just enough shade. But then its branches began to spread. Eventually the tree was shutting out the sunlight. The grass started to get thin and the garden became unproductive. By the time I realized that the tree had to come down, I had a backbreaking job on my hands. If only I had dealt with the problem when it was small instead of when it was full-grown!

That’s the way it is with sin. At first, it may seem so harmless, even good. But, like a leafy tree when it is mature, sin shuts out the light.

The children of Israel learned this lesson the hard way. Their own conduct brought judgment on them (Jer. 4:7,18). They found to their pain and regret that sin can start out looking so manageable and so safe—until it gets out of hand. Then it’s a different story. Israel’s predicament caused the prophet Jeremiah to cry out in anguish over his wayward people, “Oh, my soul, my soul! I am pained in my very heart!” (v.19).

See sin for what it is—a spreading menace that always ends in death (Jas. 1:15). Deal with the “little” sin in your life now. Don’t wait till it’s full-grown.