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Pine pollen and spiritual spotting

Spring has sprung where we live in east central Alabama. I’m not talking about the sighting of the first robin or the first daffodil, that happened quite some time ago. No, what I mean is that you know spring has arrived in all of its splendor and fullness when everyone is driving the same color vehicle --- yellow!

If you’ve never lived in the south or near pine trees, then I need to explain that that is the color of pine pollen and when the weather starts to get consistently warm it explodes out of the trees and covers everything.

Our house has pine trees all around it so my normally red truck has a distinct yellow tinge to it. Right now I’m waiting on the rain to wash it off but if that doesn’t happen soon I’ll have to visit a carwash or even worse, get a hose and wash it off myself.

This made me think about people living in other areas of the country and what particular things were peculiar their region. I remember a friend and I driving to Disneyworld the summer after I graduated high school and encountering what were referred to as love bugs. They weren’t quite as thick as a swarm of locusts, but the local stores sold netting to cover the grill of your car. When we lived in Wisconsin, it was the salt they used to de-ice the roads that could rust out the underside of your vehicle if you didn’t have it undercoated. I guess it’s probably that way no matter where you live. You have to watch for something --- even if it’s just a certain kind of tree you don’t want to park beneath.

I think the same thing is true spiritually. Each day we go out into the world (or if we stay home the world comes into where we are), and we get covered with all kinds of things. Not everything is bad by any means. We see and experience kindness, generosity, goodwill, and other positive things. But there are also a lot of contaminants, toxins that we need to wash off as soon as possible or they will eat through our spiritual armor and attack our heart.

When James tells us, "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world," (1:27), I think that’s exactly the kind of thing he’s referring to. We can’t avoid exposure to a certain level of pollution without leaving the world (1 Corinthians 5:10), but we can identify, isolate, and de-contaminate ourselves when it happens.

Warren Wiersbe, in his book on James, identifies some of the stages of spiritual deterioration:

  • spotted by the world (James 1:27);
  • friendship with the world (James 4:4);
  • love of the world (1 John 2:15-17);
  • conformity to the world (Romans 12:1-2);
  • condemned with the world (1 Corinthians 11:32).
  • Qualify the above anyway you feel you need to but don’t miss the point: the path of sin is a slippery slope and prevention is a much superior strategy to cure!

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