Tuesday, September 9, 2003
Sometimes it feels like we're all members of the "New Disease of the Year" Club. Years ago, we all learned about a fearful medical acronym called AIDS. In recent years, Americans have gotten acquainted with maladies such as Lyme disease, or, then West Nile virus. For 2003, the "New Disease of the Year" award went to a medical acronym known as SARS - a highly contagious and potentially dangerous respiratory condition. The fear and the spread of SARS hit places like China and other Asian nations particularly hard, actually curtailing a great deal of travel, tourism, and business. But one country seemed to get a handle on SARS better than the others - Vietnam. Now, although it's one of the poorest countries in Southeast Asia, Vietnam was praised by the World Health Organization as the first country to control SARS. The reason for that victory seems relatively uncomplicated, but also uncommon - Vietnamese health officials acknowledged the threat quickly and went to work immediately to contain it. No denial, no cover-up, no hesitation - but prompt action to stop it while it was still small.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Disease Prevention."
Quick action at the first sign of infection - that's the secret of preventing major damage. Not only from an infectious disease, but from the most highly contagious virus of all - the sin virus. If we nip it in the bud, we can avoid it's spread and a whole lot of suffering.
There's an interesting Scriptural admonition that guides to a strategy for preventing spiritual disease rather than trying to fight for a life after it takes root and spreads. It's found in Song of Solomon (or Song of Songs as its known in some translations), the second chapter and the fifteenth verse. It's our word for today from the Word of God. "Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in full bloom." I guess you could just ignore little foxes because they're little. Costly mistake. If you don't catch the little invaders, you will end up with the vineyard and all it's fruit ruined.
The sin-containing principle of God's Word is to get it while it's small, not after it's developed into a full-blown, deeply-entrenched disease. That's why, as parents, it's our loving responsibility to discipline our children fairly, consistently, and immediately. In sports, referees don't wait until a ball carrier is in the stands before they blow their whistle. They whistle him out of bounds as soon as his foot touches the boundary marker. That's what we have to do with our children or they will grow up to be out-of-control people, scarring their life and breaking your heart. The consequences must come each time they cross the line, and as soon as they cross the line.
But we need to quickly contain the sin virus in our personal lives, as well. Take repentant action at the first sign of an old weakness rearing its ugly head, not after it's made inroads again. Hit the brakes at your first detour from God's way - the first lie, the first flirtation, the first peek, the first blowup, the first taste. Deal with compromise immediately. Quickly confront what you've been tending to deny, and go to God the instant your dark side starts kicking in.
Once the sin virus gets established, it may take major surgery or painful emergency measures to save the patient. That's why you must commit yourself to fighting it when it's small!