John 10:10 "The thief's purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. ` My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life." NLT
I can look out our front window and see a stump. It was only last year, where now sits a stump, that a tall, shady, hickory tree stood. But one day her leaves began to turn brown. And, within a week of summer heat, the tree was obviously dead. What was the cause? Drought and a large population of carpenter ants. The tree is dead and gone, regardless of the reason for its demise. I remember the day we cut the tree. I didn’t want to cut it, hoping there might be a little life left in it. And besides, that tree was at least fifty years old. Suddenly, fifty years of life and shade and beauty were on the ground. The next step was to cut it up and remove it from the yard. Now what’s left is a stump, a reminder of what was.
I’m not necessarily a tree hugger, but I wanted to paint a picture of what happens to a fallen believer. Like that old tree, one day you begin to notice changes in a friend who has been a Christian for years. They’ve been the epitome of faithfulness and consistency. But one day, something happens and they’re never the same again. Maybe they’ve faced some kind of drought in their life with the sudden absence of a loved one, the absence of someone to care for, and suddenly they feel as if they’re no longer necessary. Or it could be something eating away at them from the inside, like those ugly carpenter ants eating away at the inside of our old hickory. How does that happen? Remember, Satan is more subtle than any creature the Lord made and he knows how to bring deception and discouragement better than anyone. Discouragement can lead to despair. Despair can lead to depression. And the leaves begin to turn brown.
Maybe you once stood tall and strong, but someone began to cut you down through criticism and comparisons. “You’re never gonna make it…You’re not good enough…You need to be more like him…You need to be more like her…” Someone was used as a tool in the hand of the Devil to bring you down. That fifty year old tree in our front yard was brought down in less than a minute. And many a good man has been brought down in less time than that through rumors, speculation, not so innocent prayer requests, and outright lies. When someone starts a rumor, someone else will believe it.
I heard he has a short temper.
I was told she couldn’t be trusted.
I heard he was fired.
I was told she is having an affair.
I heard he is hard to work with.
I was told she is addicted to prescription meds.
I heard he is seeing a counselor.
Rumor is, they’ve got problems.
Be careful what you say about someone. Your words could be the chainsaw that cuts someone down to nothing more than a stump. What you heard and what you were told may be no more true that what was heard and told about you. When you rumor and mock someone else’s problems you’re not just making light of their struggles, you are affecting someone’s life, their well-being, their peace of mind, and their family. Don’t be a part of making a stump out of someone who once stood tall.
While it is one thing to be made a stump through criticisms and comparisons, it’s another thing completely to be brought down by the Devil himself. Satan is quite crafty at cutting us down through temptation and traps. After you’ve fallen, it’s the hope of the enemy to grind whats left of your life down to nothing. He not only wants to cut you down, he wants to remove your your stump. How’s he do that? Let your imagination run with mine because, chances are, you’ve been there. After you’ve sinned you are then faced with the guilt of what you did. Satan whispers, “It’s your fault….You gave in….You did the unthinkable….You compromised….You’re guilty.” That’s why it’s so good to know God’s grace is sufficient for whatever we have done. Regardless of where I’ve been, where I’m going, or where I am, His mercies are new every morning. He knows where I am, and what I’ve done, and He’s not surprised. While God certainly allows us to reap what we have sown, He also stands ready to extend enough grace to cover any and every sin.
May the Lord bring new life from an old stump.