When We Excuse Sin

A pastor in Haiti tells about a fellow he knew who wanted to sell his house for $2,000. In time, he found a buyer, but the man could scrape together only half the asking price. The owner agreed to sell for that amount but with one reservation: he would continue to own one nail above the front door.

A couple of years later, the first fellow decided he wanted to repurchase the house. The new owner declined, saying, “I like this house; I don’t want to sell.”

The previous owner found the carcass of a dead dog on the street and hung it from the nail he still owned above the front door. Soon the stench became so strong no one could go in or out of the house, and the family had to leave. They sold the house to the former owner.

The Haitian pastor said, “If we leave the devil with even one small peg in our life, he will return to hang his rotting garbage on it, making our lives unfit for Christ’s habitation.”

–I sure am enjoying my new life in Christ. Bible study is great, my new friends at church are wonderful, and I’m loving the new relationships. I wish I’d done this years ago. Some nights I’m down at the church til 10 o’clock with my friends there. Sometimes we are praying, studying the Bible, or working on various projects. I hope no one finds out what I’m watching on the internet at home. I know it’s called pornography, but it’s such a little thing and as long as no one knows, what can be wrong with it?

–My wife and I have this wonderful relationship. After 20 years of marriage, we know each other completely and have learned to work together as a team. I don’t know what I’d do without her. She’s so good with our kids, and I’m always proud of her when we go out in public. I don’t want her to find out about the harmless little flirtation I’m having with this girl at the office, though. She wouldn’t understand.

–The owner of this company has been so good to me. In the bad economy our country is experiencing right now, I’m blessed to work for such a good man doing what I love. I worry that he might find out about the little money I make on the side from a few of the customers. He’d call it a kickback, but I think I deserve it.

–The life of a pastor is the best of all possible worlds. We get paid to do the things we love doing best–study the Word, help people, preach. The community gives us a lot of respect, people look to us for leadership, we can make a big difference in people’s lives. That’s why I can’t let them find out about the little thing I have going on the side with this woman who came to me for counseling. It’s not worth making a big issue over. God understands, even if no one else would.

–When the plane crashed, federal investigators spent a full year assembling the wreckage and combing through it. Eventually, they reported that every mechanical part of that plane had been working beautifully except for one thing: the cargo door was unlatched. In flight, it blew open and caused the plane to go out of control.

–They shut down the nuclear power plant in Alabama because an employee had dropped a glove into the works.

–The space shuttle Challenger crashed in 1986 because the temperature at Cape Canaveral was just a little too cold, causing the gaskets to freeze up and become brittle.

Little things mean a lot.  A song of the 1950s.  

“The little foxes that spoil the vines” is how the Song of Solomon puts it in 2:15. Modern translations change “vines” to “vineyards,” otherwise it’s the same.

It’s just a little thing. That sensual novel you are reading, the embarrassing television show you are watching, the illicit relationship you are toying with, the money you are embezzling, the corners you are cutting.

Just a little peg above the door, that’s all.

Jesus is Lord over all the areas of my life, except for that one nail above the front door.

Jesus put it like this: “He who is faithful in that which is little is faithful also in much.”

Lest anyone fail to get the point, He added, “And whoever is unrighteous in very little is also unrighteous in much.” (Luke 16:10)

Dear Lord,

Forgive my rationalizations.
Rule over all my life, every area.
If you must,
Bring me down a peg.


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This article originally appeared on JoeMcKeever.com and is reposted here by permission.

Joe McKeever
Joe McKeever

Joe McKeever spent 42 years pastoring six Southern Baptist churches and has been writing and cartooning for religious publications for more than 40 years.