Yesterday, my husband asked our teen-aged son to start a fire in the wood stove in our shop. We were blissfully having lunch at our neighbors’ house (who also happen to be my in-laws) unaware of the excitement taking place next door.
Apparently, our son had started the fire, watched it for a bit, and then decided to head back into the house to watch a little ice hockey while the fire got going. A little while later, he decided he’d better go check on it.
What he found was a raging fire! Cardboard boxes, unbeknownst to him, were laying too close to the stove and were now in flames. I am so proud of what he did next. Clear-headed and calm, although I am sure with a heart beating so fast it may have hurt, he grabbed the fire extinguisher and found out that those things really do work! He then threw the boxes out onto the pavement to smolder and cool down.
I am here to tell you that had he not gone to check on that fire at just the right time or had he not had the presence of mind to respond to that emergency, we would probably not have a shop today.
Sin is a little like that fire in the wood stove, isn’t it? We start nursing a secret habit or sin and we think it will stay contained and just affect us. But what we don’t realize is that there are almost always “cardboard boxes” laying nearby–they are usually in the shape of our spouse and children, or perhaps our parents, or even our friends. And like a fire, sin will consume anything that gets too close.
Many of our families have been consumed by our sins of selfishness, our lack of discernment, and our pride. They have been consumed by our materialism, our wrong priorities, and our sharp words.
And this is one of the reasons why self-examination is so very important (2 Corinthians 13:5 says Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified.) If we are in step, on a daily basis, with God, reading and studying His Word, dedicating time to prayer, we will know that many things we view as innocent personality traits or harmless activities or attitudes are sinful. And these sins become like fires that are going to damage, if not destroy, those around us.
We can’t afford to go watch hockey while our fire is burning. We have to watch our fires constantly, or better yet, not even start them. But, as we all are sinners, we all have hot ashes that are just waiting for a little kindling to start a roaring fire, don’t we? We can never let down our guard. Never.
I am so grateful that the Lord saw fit to spare our shop. I don’t know why. But I am so thankful He nudged our son to go check on that fire at just the right moment. May we not even leave any fires of sin burning unattended, and if we make the mistake of doing so, may our minds be filled with God’s Word, so that we recognize the danger and douse that thing as soon as it gets started.