I was using a 3-point hitch mower at work a while back and wanted the edge of the area mown to be neat and straight. The ground was rough, and although I was moving slowly, the front of the tractor would lurch to the left or right with every bump. Three-point hitch equipment is rigidly held in line with the tractor and whenever the front of the tractor swerves to the right or left, the attachment swerves to the left or right, respectively. In this case, slight movements of a couple of inches at the front of the tractor resulted in a movement of a foot or so at the back of the mower, especially after I compensated (or overcompensated).
I’d seen this happen years ago when my father-in-law wiped out some of my mother-in-law’s flowers once (and only once) when he used similar equipment to mow their yard at the farm (oops). Other equipment that’s pulled like a trailer also can cause problems as they move in the same direction as the tractor and will cut corners because they’re pulled sideways when the tractor turns.
Our lives are a lot like this in that small things can have wide-reaching effects of great magnitude. For example, little white lies to cover up indiscretions (that’s usually bring no more harm than embarrassment) can lead to “greater” sin as we dig our hole deeper with more lies to cover the white lie. Some sins are immediately apparent and can’t be hidden (like shredding off the wife’s flowers while cleaning up the farm for her garden club meeting). We may be able to keep other sins hidden for a while, but they’ll eventually surface (1 Timothy 5: 24). So, we really never get away with sin, even the “small” ones.
Jesus’ death was just as tortuous for cowardice, selfishness, greed, envy, and “little white lies” as it was for sexual immorality of every kind, witchcraft, drunkenness, murder, and theft (Galatians 5: 16-21; 1 Corinthians 6: 9-11; Revelation 21: 6-8). So, even if we tell only the “little” white lie, we’re as guilty as if we’d committed murder (or whatever sin you consider being the worst – James 2: 8-11).
Conversely, Jesus’ resurrection brings victory over death for those who obey him (Romans 6: 23; 3: 23, 24; Hebrews 5: 7-9; 1 Peter 1: 22-25; Romans 10: 9-13; Acts 22: 16; 2: 36-39; 1 Timothy 1: 15-17). No corners could be cut in paying the price for our sins and no corners can be cut for us to receive forgiveness as we take advantage of Jesus’ sacrifice. Naaman had to dip seven times in the Jordan River to be cleansed (2 Kings 5: 13, 14); we’re merely to be dipped (baptized) once after which we need only ask for cleansing (John 13: 8-10; 1 John 1: 5-9). This makes God’s commands under the new (Christian) covenant much less burdensome than they were under the old (Jewish) covenant (1 John 5: 3; Acts 15: 1-11; Colossians 2: 11-13). If we truly follow this royal law of love toward God, we’ll seek forgiveness because we realize that even our “smallest” sins damage our relationship with him.
Additionally, if everything we do is based in love for our fellow man out of love for God, something as simple as giving a cup of water can have greater effects than moving mountains (Matthew 25: 31-46; 1 Corinthians 13: 1-3; Mark 14: 1-9; John 15: 5-10; Matthew 20: 25-28). As with our sin, we can hide our good works only briefly (Matthew 6: 3, 4, 19, 21; 5: 14-16; 1 Timothy 5: 25; Hebrews 6: 10-12).
Oftentimes, the path we travel is rough, causing us to lurch to the right or left or we may try to take a direct route causing the things that trail along behind us (our wake of sin) to cut across corners of our lives or the lives of others wreaking havoc. We must be careful to not overcompensate by swerving too far in the other direction to “cover” for ourselves with more sins, like “little white lies,” or to otherwise cut corners in our relationship with God.
It’s relieving that we don’t even need to make compensation because Jesus has perfectly compensated for our sin without cutting any corners through his death, burial, and resurrection (Romans 3: 25, 26; Hebrews 2: 14-17; 9: 22, 27, 28). All we need to do is remember that God’s love covers a multitude of sins and get forgiveness for our sins on his terms to avoid the far-reaching effects of any sin, great or small (1 Peter 4: 8; Isaiah 1: 18, 19; Acts 3: 17-20).
Leonard Lauriault, church of Christ