Spaniel Photo from Pxfuel

I received an alarming notice in my mailbox from my neighbourhood association recently.

It informed me that there was an infestation of “dog-strangling vine” in the area. Dog-strangling vine is an unwanted, invasive plant that can choke out native species. The leaflet told me what steps to take if I saw this plant in my yard, and who to report its presence to.

Inexplicably missing from the notice, however, was the answer to a crucial question:

Will the dog-strangling vine actually strangle my dog?

I’ve conducted some research on this vital issue for readers of The Faith Cafe and can assure you that this crafty vine likely won’t strangle your canine. Unless, of course, he sits next to the vine and keeps perfectly still for several weeks. But if your dog isn’t in the habit of sitting motionless next to murderous flora, he’s probably safe from this vicious plant.

I’m being facetious, of course, but perhaps there’s a lesson here for us when it comes to sin:

If we just sit there and take no action to avoid the temptation, we’ll get into trouble.

Instead, Scripture tells us to flee from potentially sinful situations. We have a responsibility to remove ourselves from people or circumstances which might tempt us to act in a manner contrary to what God expects of us.

Topping the list of things to avoid is probably sexual immorality: 1 Corinthians 6:18 tells us to flee from it.

More good advice is found in Proverbs 5:8, which instructs us to not even go near the door of a person who has “loose” morals.

Proverbs 4:15 directs us to avoid the path of the wicked, and Proverbs 20:19 says not to hang around with gossips.

Rounding out some of this Godly counsel is Proverbs 20:3, in which we’re told to avoid getting into fights.

God knows that the world is full of temptations, but He expects us to be wise and take steps to steer clear of them whenever we can. The price of getting entangled in sin can be terribly steep. Sin can cost us dearly in damaged relationships with God and others, possible financial loss, a ruined reputation, and an impaired ability to witness to the lost. There’s just too much at stake: that’s why God wants us to not just sit there when sin beckons, but to actively put some distance between us and the source of the temptation.

Hebrews 12:1 gives us some great advice:

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”

The word “entangles” in this passage is worded differently across various translations of the Bible, but each rendition elucidates the ways sin can hinder us: it can ensnare us, hamper our forward movement, cling to us, hold us back, slow us down, and hold onto us tightly.

Sin Can Trip Us Up! Photo by Louish Pixel on Flickr CC BY-NC-ND-2.0

I especially like The Living Bible’s version: it describes sin as wrapping itself tightly around our feet and tripping us up. Sounds a lot like our dog-strangling vine, doesn’t it?

But even though temptations may threaten to ensnare us, Scripture tells us that God provides a way of escape:

“The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.” (1 Corinthians 10:13 NLT)

The takeaway from the lesson of the dog-strangling vine is this:

When faced with temptation, don’t just sit there and let sin strangle you.

Make a run for it!

© 2020 Lori J. Cartmell. All rights reserved.

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