Green Paint and Old Leaven

Photo by Maria Lindsey Multimedia Creator on

So there I am – five-years-old – sitting in church, doing the usual things five-year-old church children do while half listening to my father’s preaching. I am making etchings of the Tabernacle Hymns front cover and folding my mom’s handkerchief into twins rocking in a cradle. On one side of me, my mom is listening intently. We always sit by the side door – the one that goes to the Sunday school department and then upstairs to our apartment. Not sure why, but that’s where we sit.

On the other side of me are two sisters, older friends who are in grade school. I’m not sure what they’re doing, but it looks like they have candy. Always of interest to me.

“Hey, Linda,” one whispers. “You want a piece of lime candy?” She hands me a green piece of candy which I promptly put in my mouth. I suck for a few seconds before discovering this is NOT lime candy at all. The “candy” tastes horrible. Then I discover it’s one of those water color chips that are in those child paint sets. Which means that the longer I suck and try to spit it out, the greener my face becomes as green saliva puddles on my lips and trickles down my chin. The more I try to get rid of it, the greener my face becomes.

By the time my mom notices, I am a green mess. She gives the girls “a look,” grabs my arm and pulls me to the SS department and up the stairs to our apartment. She is not a happy camper or a happy mom or a happy pastor’s wife. My usual gentle mom is actually quite angry.

“Why did you do this?” she demands while washing my face. Of course that makes it even greener as the paint mixes with the water.

“I didn’t know,” I sobbed some green tears.

Many moons later, we got to the place where we could laugh at it, but it took awhile.

That experience always made me think of sin. We see something enticing and immediately we jump in without even thinking about the consequences. Without even thinking about how quickly sin spreads.

Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?

(I Corinthians 5:6)

We can explain this to a child by using the illustration of lying. A child lies to get out of something and then has to lie again to explain the first lie and on and on. Or a child shoplifts a toy and then has to lie to explain where he got it.

Sin almost never stops with one small incident … we quickly get drawn into it’s trap.

“I’ll just stay home from church this one Sunday.”

“I’m too busy to teach this quarter … and maybe I can do it next quarter.”

“I’ll watch that TV show out of curiosity – just this once.”

“I’ll go to that bar with my friends. but won’t watch the floor show.”

“I’m not really flirting with my co-worker. just being friendly.”

So quickly that one “little” sin spreads and catches us in its trap. Like a piece of leaven, we have become infected through and through.

Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. (I Corinthians 6:7)

Yes, God really tells us to become a new lump.

So let’s get rid of the old leaven and “become lumpy.”

And in the meantime, stay away from paint chips.

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