When we moved to our present house fourteen years ago, a tall tree grew just inside the driveway. Three thick limbs stretched up to the sky. One limb pointed toward our house, the second toward our neighbour’s, and the third toward the road. We thought a tree growing in the driveway strange. Yet we admired its grandeur.
I don’t know when the bark began to split. But I didn’t think anything of it. Eventually I wondered why there were so many carpenter ants at the base of the tree. When woodpeckers began to peck holes into all three limbs, I knew they were after the ants.
From a distance the tree still appeared strong and beautiful. Close up was a different story. Last winter woodpeckers had penetrated deep into the inner core, well past the centre of one of the limbs. Now we did not want to be responsible for a limb falling onto our neighbour’s house. The tree had to go. After the tree feller cut it down, we mourned because of the rotten interior. At some point a strong wind would have toppled it over.
That tree caused me to ponder the difference between believers and non-believers. At birth all of us are born in sin. Like the inside of all trees we are spiritually dead. “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God” (Romans 3:10, 11, NIV). That is why sin crouches at the heart of everyone, believer and non-believer alike. Sometimes our own fleshly desires tempt us. Other times it may be the world or Satan and his demons.
Like the tree whose bark split we are tempted to sin. Ants and woodpeckers try to pierce our heart. James cautions us, “When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death” (James 1:13–15, NIV).
Paul writes to believers: “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it” (1 Corinthians 10:13, NIV).
Have you acknowledged that you are a sinner saved by grace? If not, cast yourself on the Lord and cry for mercy. Jesus is mighty to save, and the Holy Spirit will guard your heart and mind.