I recently let PD, my dog, go with me to work on my booth for an upcoming antique show. He is always excited to sniff around look things over, but also quick to let me know he is ready to go back home. Although he is hard of hearing, and slow at understanding, I talk to him like he was one of the kids. "If you didn't want to come with me while I do some work, you should have stayed home."
After my work is finished, all I have to do is take one step in the direction of the car, and PD knows we are going home. On that particular day I was feeling bad about making him stay with me so long while knowing he wanted to be home taking a nap. I stopped at a convenience store to get a drink and remembered how much PD likes wafer cookies. I found a package of them that cost 79 cents and we had an afternoon snack on the way home. Big mistake!
The very next afternoon when my chores were taking me in another direction, I was about to leave the house and PD headed out the door with me. I thought it strange that he would want to go with me again after being so bored with the previous afternoon. I didn't think much more about it until we drove past a convenience store and he made it very clear to me that I was supposed to stop there. He was wanting more cookies. You guessed it....he can spot a Mini-Mart from three blocks down the street.
I will admit to you the cookies I bought, and which PD and I shared, were mighty tasty. I also know if he and I shared a bag of cookies on a daily basis, we would gain pounds. So in spite of all the cute begging and his look of disappointment, that second day we drove on past the Mini-Mart.
I tell you that story to unveil a truth you already know. Habits are hard to break. Just because the cookies are good, doesn't mean a steady diet of cookies will be good for you.
Another truth you already know is the habit of sin is difficult to break, too. I read a report the other day that said teen shoplifting is growing in epidemic proportions and most who are caught shoplifting, do it on a regular basis. The report continues to include the older age groups, and states that some have made shoplifting a way of life. All this shows how sin does become habitual for some, and for most, there is no desire to stop.
Much in the same way, our sin of gossip or slander or judging others, can become such a habit, we no longer think of it as sin. These and others are the sins that bring our struggle. Think for a moment about the sins in your life and let your thinking continue to include your failed attempts to bring the needed changes. Maybe your sin does not include any of those mentioned, but whatever your sin is, the problem remains the same.
Paul says we all sin and fall short of the glory of God; that there is none righteous, not a single one.
In this season, as we consider the birth of Jesus, may we all see him as the remedy for the sin which entangles us. In addition, come to know the power of him living in us, to overcome and defeat sin's control. The baby in the manger is the Christ of the cross who longs to cleanse us and rescue us from sin's control. Rescue me again, Lord Jesus. Amen.