While working in my yard the last few days, I’ve been thinking a lot about Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden. Not because everything is lush and green (although it is a lot greener than normal). Rather, I’ve been thinking of Genesis 3:17-18: “. . . Cursed is the ground because of you; . . . It will produce thorns and thistles for you. . .” I’m pretty sure that when God said “thorns and thistles”, He was talking about goat-heads (known as puncture vines in some parts of the country). You see, if there’s one thing my siblings and I all have in common, it has to be the ability to spot a goat-head while walking across the yard and the inability to walk past it. The destruction of goat-heads is very deeply ingrained in us.
So while I was thinking about Adam and Eve’s sin and its consequences (goat-heads), the goat-heads became, in my mind, the very representation of sin. As such, it occurred to me that we can learn many lessons about sin from my enemy the goat-head. For example:
1. Because of our recent rains, the goat-heads were actually fairly easy to pull this week, although sometimes, when the ground is hard and dry, they are very hard to pull. When my spirit is soft and malleable, it’s fairly easy to arrest the sin in my life; when it’s calloused and hard, it is much more difficult.
2. Where there is one goat-head, you’d better look around. Chances are there are more in the immediate vicinity. When I recognize one sin in my life, I’d better take inventory of my life; chances are there are more areas that need attention.
3. If you ignore a patch of goat-heads, they don’t just go away. They stay and produce seeds and the patch just gets bigger and bigger. If I ignore sin in my life, it doesn’t just go away. It grows and produces more sin.
4. Goat-heads come in all shapes and sizes. Some are very tiny, with no blooms or thorns. They appear very harmless (like a “little white lie”). Others are huge, up to three feet in diameter, with dozens of thorns. Their potential for harm is very obvious; those are the plants (or sins) that are easy to spot, such as the ones listed in Galatians 5:19-21. But, if left untended, the “little white lies” will grow into big, destructive, obvious sins. That being said, it should be noted that sometimes a very small goat-head can still sport a seed or two. It’s not just the “big sins” that affect our lives and the lives of those around us.
5. The only way to get rid of a patch of goat-heads is to pull them up by the root and destroy (burn) them. The only way to eradicate sin in my life is to get to the root of the problem and completely throw it out of my life. Picking away at it and just throwing away parts of it will only result in that sin coming back into my life and spreading its evil.
6. Until the goat-heads develop their thorns, they sport an attractive yellow flower and appear very harmless. But if left unhindered, they will produce thorns that not only cause much pain, but also provide the seed for more goat-heads. Sin is that way; it often appears harmless and even attractive. But it will eventually always produce pain and more sin.
7. If left too long, even though you pull the goat-head up by the roots, it still drops some of its seeds on the soil, and there will inevitably be another generation of goat-heads grow in its place. Sin has consequences. It sprouts seeds in our lives and the lives of others. Even though we repent and stop sinning, if left too long the sin in our lives will produce more sin.
8. Finally, the experienced observer can spot a goat-head even without its flowers or thorns. Its leaves are similar to, but different from, any other plant. As I have matured in my Christian walk, it has become easier to spot sin in its beginning stages. We shouldn’t need to wait until the painful thorns are produced to know that we need to eradicate sin.
If Adam and Eve had known that the result of their tasting the forbidden fruit would be thorns and thistles, would they have still tasted it? I don’t know, but I’m quite certain that if they hadn’t someone else would have. That’s just the way we are. Sin, and goat-heads, are a part of our lives. I pray that I will be as consistent at spotting the sin in my life and as diligent about eradicating it as I am the goat-heads in my yard.
Kathy PeltonPharo Cattle Co.