Locust-Like Sins

Our friend Mrs. Cathy Baker ( responded to one of my January posts, writing “Pride is one of those parasitic sins because it just pops up unexpectedly in our lives.” The honesty of her comment floored me. As I thought about it, I likened it to how hard I fought to rid my pastures of locust trees right after we purchased our Cross-Dubya ranch.

As shown in the photo above, you can understand why farmers and ranchers have a healthy hatred of locust trees. Growing up to finger-long, these rigid thorns are notorious for flattening tires, getting stuck in the feet and hide of livestock, and even ending up in hay bales now and again. I can’t imagine anything worse for one of my cows than reaching for a mouthful of hay and pulling back with a mouth full of thorns. So, we work to eradicate them whenever we find them trying to invade our pastures and fields.

You would think cutting down the sapling or tree would solve the problem, wouldn’t you? Makes sense that if I cut down the tree, then burn that rascal, I solve the problem. Weeks or months later, you learn the hard lesson that locust trees are just not that easy to get rid of. You discover they have a tentacle-like root system that runs in all directions just under the surface. And when you separate that root system from its large tap root, it triggers these sucker roots to sprout a hundred new trees.

I suspect you’re beginning to see what I did during the first 18 months of ranch ownership. Cut down the tree; wait for new growth a few feet away, cut it down. Over and over I went until the manager at the local farmer’s cooperative explained to me what was happening. He suggested that when I surface cut the tree or sapling, that I saturate the freshly severed root system with a herbicide named Tordon®. What a difference!

It wasn’t enough to remove the tree or its tap root; I had to treat the remaining sucker roots. When I started doing that, less and less new growth would appear. Some five years later, I’m happy to report (so far) I have no locust trees left on my property. My cows are happy. My arms and legs are happy. And my tractor tires are, well, at least they’re not flat.

In thinking about my friend Ms. Cathy’s comment, I realized how those parasitic sins we had spoken about were much like those pesky locust trees. Unless you treat the roots of your sin, it will return. Sometimes, when and where you would least expect it to.

What is your solution for treating the root of your sin? Click To Tweet

So when I discover those pesky parasitic sins in my life, how do I treat them? What works for me is to first admit they’re there by confessing them to God. Next is to repent and ask His help in ridding myself of them. Third, and most important, is allowing the salve of His grace to reach into my soul and treat the root of my sin. Be that pride of life, lust of the eyes, or lust of the flesh, most often one or more of these three are the culprit. God’s word confirms this. “For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.” (1 John 2:16, NKJV)

When we understand the root of our sins, we are better able to treat it most effectively. Like those locust trees, until you destroy the root system our sins will just keep coming back to trouble us. Thank you Ms. Cathy for reminding me of this ever-important lesson.

God’s blessings,


p.s. I wanted to share one last thought with you today. I recently received a copy of Little Faith, Big God from my writing friend Mrs. Debbie W. Wilson. While I’ve read her new new book, and even written a review of it, I wanted to share a thought that has stayed with me for the past couple of days. In sharing a story for her children’s Easter pet adventures about Jordan and Rosie, she referenced James 1:15 (a verse that I hold close in my heart). She went on to write “In Noah’s time, wickedness brought judgment to the whole earth. God’s tears must have mingled with the rain when he watched people and animals that bore his thumbprint drown because of humankind’s violence.” When I think on these words, I cry out for forgiveness of any part I have in making this world ugly. I hope you’ll consider this wonderful Bible study from Ms. Debbie, available at  Amazon or a bookstore near you.


52 thoughts on “Locust-Like Sins”

  1. Isn’t God awesome in the way He uses certain things He’s placed on someone’s heart to bless another? I know He blesses me through your imagery and transparency. For me, I memorized Psalm 139:23,24 so that I could say it aloud during my quiet time, asking God for sensitivity to sin to avoid “planting” it in the first place. I wish I could say I’m always alert to it, but I’m not. Still, that is my heart’s desire. Thank you, J.D.!

    1. Yours and mine dear friend. Oh but to learn to walk more closely with each passing day. Don’t know about you, but sometimes I just can’t wait for His return so I never have to feel “distanced” again. God’s blessings ma’am.

  2. Locust trees are a legume and those underground rhizomes go into emergency mode when the main stem is cut or damaged. Those new saplings remind me of satan’s fiery darts that are hurled at us when we step out to expose his lies with the truth of the word of God. Satan doesn’t just wither up and die, he strikes out in defensive mode and announces a full-blown attack. If we aren’t under attack, then maybe we aren’t actively trying to combat the evil one. Thanks for your insight J.D.!

    1. Thanks Mr. Ben. I didn’t know why the growth spurt was kick-started, so I appreciate learning my friend. have you ever considered becoming an extension agent? You sure know lots. 🙂 God’s blessings sir.

        1. Yessir. My adopted dad taught me much the same way. “Find what you love to do and pursue that” he would say, but he would always add “But if you don’t know how to do something else, you’re going to have to love doing it a whole lot more because those who do know how to do this are going to take you to the cleaners.” 🙂

  3. What a powerful post, J.D. God’s Word and His Spirit are the only effective root eradicators I know of for those thorns of my sins. What a great visual picture of the harm my stinky sins inflict on those around me. I had never seen or heard of a locust tree. . .

    1. Well thank you so much Ms. DiAne. Am so pleased that y’all enjoyed this ma’am. Thank you for commenting ma’am. When I first learned about these tree here in Texas (the hard way I might add), I couldn’t help but picture Christ’s crown of thorns having been fashioned from this tree. Perhaps that why I had such a healthy hatred right from the start with this menace. God’s blessings ma’am.

  4. Recognizing my own parasitic sins is the first step in changing. Recognize, ask God for forgiveness and work to do better in life. Yes, understanding the root of sin is important in changing behavior. Your posts are always inspiring. 🙂

  5. I think that first we have to admit to ourselves that we have this nature of sin. However, if the enemy has a strong hold on us, there is the possibility that we won’t recognize any wrong doing. If that’s the case, we’d better be buying Tordone by the barrel, and get back to reading his word. The double punch should be more than adequate in killing off those pesky thorns. You’re amazing J.D.!

    1. Thanks for your sweet comments, but I think you’re prejudiced (just a smidge). 🙂 As far as admitting we all have that sin nature embedded, that’s a problem for some for sure. If we don’t understand where the roots are, we can’t treat them can we? Well said ma’am.

  6. Great analogy. I have a tree that does the same thing and it’s wicked. How true it is that we need to ask for God’s help in killing those roots like your farm manager friend did. We can’t just will them away. It takes prayer, God sized strength/courage, and His grace. Thanks for the encouragement.
    I too pray for forgiveness in any way I’ve made this world ugly, and indeed I have.

    1. Absolutely Ms. Cathy. I hope your tree doesn’t have those nasty thorns on it ma’am. Them sucker roots are a mess though aren’t they? You are absolutely right ma’am, to eradicate them, we have to use the right tools and techniques. Am sure glad life’s instruction manual comes in a NKJV version I can understand a bit easier. 🙂

  7. Acknowledging them honestly is step one and running to the Father for His help and covering as we repent and receive forgiveness – it’s a constant process as different things pop up over time but praise God we have the remedy!!

  8. Sin is stubborn and loves to send out shoots in other places I didn’t realize would be a struggle. Praise God that he never settles for my surface attempts at getting at the problem. He wants to dig out the root.

    1. No ma’am there isn’t; but God never told us it was easy, He just promised to lighten our load. It’s good to know He along with me through it all. 🙂 God’s blessings ma’am.

  9. J.D. , how like the locust trees our sins can be! Thank you for this brilliant post from Cathy’s heart to your heart-felt words. The third step you mentioned is so important.

  10. Well said, J.D. Sounds like a lot of work getting to the root of your locust tree problem but so worth it once you succeeded! And once we get to the root of our own sin problem there is sweet victory! Praise God!

    1. Thank you Ms. LuAnn. Getting to the root of our sins can take a lot of work, but as you point out so well, when we remove it, we see the effort was certainly worth it. I can only speak for myself when I say this, but I believe I’ve grown more in my faith from “sin eradication” (i.e. when I’ve fallen and struggle to correct my sinful ways) than I have simply through study and prayer. I think strength comes from effort in this case. Hope that make sense. God’s blessings ma’am. And thank you so much for your kind reminder that I forgot to send this out via email on Wednesday. 🙂 Hint: I did it folks.

  11. I love that words from others multiply as you shred Cathy’s influence. You painted a visual that will stay with me whenever I see any tree and think about its roots as they relate to habits and sins. The best part however, is grace. Thanks for your thoughtful explanation and application.

    1. Absolutely Ms. Marilyn. It’s been said for many years that the word “Team” is an acrostic for “Together Everyone Achieves More.” I think you might agree, that is validated no better than the way our writing friends and fellow Christians (sojourners for Christ) come together to help the body to achieve more, reach more, and grow more than we ever can individually. I am so very blessed to have wonderful friends like you, Ms. Cathy, and everyone here who is helping me to become the servant God wants us to be. I pray I can help others in this same way ma’am. Thank you!

  12. Thanks for this post, J.D. I love Cathy’s comment and your words that her comment inspired. I admit, I’ve never heard of locust trees and never knew they existed. But, ouch, I can see the problem they would cause a rancher. To rid yourself of them, you had to get to those pesky roots, and makes a great analogy to us spiritually. My counselor friend says there’s always a root to anger, bitterness, unforgiveness, and so on. Until we “treat” the root, we likely live with the consequences of the sins in our lives.

    1. Amen! We must treat the roots indeed Ms. Karen. It’s amazed me how many times I’ve had to experience the same hard lessons because I’ve refused to get to the source of my sins (my carnal human nature). You would think at my age I would’ve learned that lesson, but it seems (like the Apostle Paul) I am destined to continue seeking, learning, and growing. Perhaps that why he implored each of us to “run the race.” Prayers and blessings my friend.

  13. “See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled.” Hebrews 12:15 ESV.
    This verse came to my mind while reading your post. Unforgiveness in our lives can cause us to become bitter. Great post JD.

  14. The equivalent of locust trees in South Carolina, are sand spurs. Small, low-growing, and biscuits, these little devils pierce tender feet and paws and get stuck in our four-footed friends’ fur. They, too, require treatment that goes much beyond the surface to totally irradiate. Like with our sin, total annihilation is the only course of action if we want to walk joyfully. Thanks for the reminder, J.D.

    1. Growing up in Florida, I am very familiar with sand spurs Ms. Lori. Youch those can hurt! Then again, even they don’t hurt as much as a four-inch wooden spear impaling you. Especially with the nasty little infection that comes along with them from scratches and punctures. You are so right ma’am. Our animal friends suffer every bit as much as we do. It’s amazing how many I pulled from Magic the donkey’s hoof or Bubba the chocolate lab’s paw (or backside) until we finally got them all eradicated here on the ranch. Bubba still comes home with one now and again when he visits the neighbors. Those big sad eyes tell me something’s wrong. Am so glad you enjoyed; and grateful for all your kind words and encouragement ma’am.

  15. Wow. What a painfully accurate description of sin, sir. Thank you for this vivid reminder. I believe most of the sin in my life is rooted in a lie that I believe. It may be a lie about myself, my circumstances, or even a lie I’ve come to believe about God. But I act out based on my view of reality–not the truth, but my twisted view of it. The greatest thing I can do to overcome sin in my life is to let God replace the wordly lies I believe with His untainted truth about who I am, who He is, and the purpose for my circumstances.

    1. Sir. I think the lies Satan gets us to believe about ourselves are among the hardest to rid ourselves of. I can’t imagine what he’s told you my friend, but I can assure you it’s a lie. Everything he’s ever told me has proven to be. He’s a master at setting traps my friend, as you well know. I join you in praying every snare is tripped before you are ever trapped again my friend. Prayers continue sir.

  16. We have several weeds on our farm that threaten to overcome our pastures. I think I have a lot of weeds (sin) in my life, too. Like you, I believe it vital that we recognize the sin and hold ourselves responsible for it. Only then can we (with God’s guidance) devise a plan to eradicate that sin at its root. Thank you (and Cathy) for this inspiring message.

    1. Absolutely Ms. Katherine. So very true ma’am. Nothing we can do in our own power is everlasting is it ma’am? God’s blessings dear friend. Praying you aren’t having to shovel snow in the morning ma’am.

  17. Those trees sound so very frustrating! A good analogy for the effects of sin. Do you have wisteria vine plants in Texas? They look beautiful, but they will wrap themselves around other plants and trees to compete for sunlight. They can also grow through cracks of buildings. I’ve seen homes that were almost half-covered by these. They also make me think consider results of choices.

    1. Hey Ms. Robin. We do have wisteria, which is beautiful by the way, in Texas; but I don’t have any on the ranch. Another great analogy though ma’am. When we think of an example of “lust of the eyes”, Satan often tempts us with something that seems beautiful, delicate, and petite. And we can get drawn in, only to learn later we are entangled in its trap, all wrapped up in its tentacles, claws, vines, whatever they might be called. 🙂 So well said my friend. Thank you for joining in our conversation. You always make them better. Hey to Mr. James also.

  18. J.D., I don’t think it’s any accident pride was the sin that brought Satan down. It is the most insidious of all sins, because many times the sinner does not realize he is guilty of it until he is thoroughly entrapped, snared. Furthermore, it’s a sin that permeates all areas of life. I just hate it, because it’s one that besets me often. Thank you for this post and your excellent word picture of the locust tree!

    1. Amen Ms. Gena. I think pride “the original sin.” I know it certainly has been the root cause of many of the mistakes I’ve made, and still make, in my life ma’am. Thank you for your kind comments ma’am, and for helping make our conversation even better. God’s blessings my resplendent friend. 🙂

  19. Buried way down deep are the ugliest sins with root-like tentacles that won’t let go of its thirst for life until it is consciously poisoned and put to death. I like your analogies, J.D. You are such a gifted writer and the best encourager I know. Thank you on all accounts.

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