“The destined end of man is not happiness, nor health, but holiness. God’s one aim is the production of saints.”
Last summer while walking into church I was amazed to see a huge limb of a tree lying on the ground as an aftermath from high winds. The week before it looked strong and sturdy, firmly attached to the tree. The grand gusts of wind might have been responsible for the breaking of the limb, but dry rot was what weakened it in the first place.
“Dry rot is a condition of wood in which a fungus breaks down the wood fibers and renders the wood weak and brittle.” The excess moisture destroys the structural integrity of the wood. It may look normal and sturdy on the outside, while the fungus is eating away and decaying the structure on the inside. All it takes is a little unusual force and down it goes.
I began to think about all the ways dry rot can come into my mind, will and emotions. What breaks down my spiritual being, rendering it weak? How is the structural integrity of my spirit destroyed or compromised? Am I looking strong on the outside, only to discover decay on the inside when trials occur?
Saying yes to my flesh, and choosing to do what I want to do, when I want to do it, compromises my spirit. Choosing to bow down more to the fear of man and submitting less to the Lord, destroys my levels of integrity and obedience to God. And allowing unforgiveness and bitterness to sit in my heart, renders me weak.
God, in His wonderful grace, supplies us with solutions to the fungus permeating within our hearts. He says in Ephesians 4:31-32: “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice (ill will). Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Repentance, forgiving our offenders, and going in the opposite spirit of the unregenerative man, rids us of the fungus which weakens our spirit-man.
Unforgiveness is insidious and can have a gradual and cumulative effect on our hearts. Left untouched, it turns into bitterness, cynicism and eventually slander. Anne Lamott says, “Not forgiving is like drinking rat poison and waiting for the rat to die.” Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself. It’s letting go of the noose of offense that’s taut around your heart. The offender may be getting off your hook, but they are still firmly attached to God’s and held accountable.
II Corinthians 7:1 tells us, “Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.” We purify or sanctify ourselves when we detach ourselves from the affections of the world and make ourselves holy. We’re cleansed from sin by having godly sorrow and repentance; turning from our flesh and turning toward God.