The Wages of Sin

I know. Some of y’all are asking, “What’s chickens have to do with sin?” It took me a while to understand the lesson God wanted me to take from this, too. After a few nights of prayer about why 1 Corinthians 4:4 kept coming to the forefront of my mind every time I looked in on the chickens, it clicked. Well, it crowed, anyway.

It was on Day Two of the recent winter blast in northeast Texas that I began to understand. Over the next few days, the Holy Spirit began unfolding the lesson. While it’s been cold off and on, the day the cold front arrived was raw and windy. The rain soon turned to a misting freezing rain and the plummeting temperatures brought windchills into the low teens. Not realizing it was going to get this cold, this fast, I had let the chickens out to roam earlier that morning when the temperatures were moderate.

For those of us with chickens, there’s a few universal concepts. One, herding chickens is like attempting to herd cats. They develop habits (such as returning to the safety of their coop at sunset) and seldom deviate from those. Two, chickens are stupid. They don’t possess the same critical thinking and reasoning skills some humans do (I’m admittedly in that chicken category from time-to-time). Thus, they don’t know they should come in out of the rain or freezing rain in this case. Third, they don’t know what’s best for them. Their entire existence revolves around foraging, as they spend most of their time doing exactly that. If they’re not foraging—scratching one step forward, taking two steps back (we call it the Poultry Two Step)—they’re being fruitful or sleeping.

Come to think of it, maybe we’re more like chickens than we think.

Back to my Day Two discovery. Putting the chickens away that night, I told Mr. John we were going to plug in the heat lamp and leave them penned up for the next few days. Our chicken house comprises an elevated coop, with roosting boxes, within a fenced in, well protected area to keep them safe from predators at night. Putting them away requires getting the last few stragglers into the fenced chicken pen, and waiting for them to eat some feed, and get a drink. When they’re sufficiently fueled and hydrated, they walk the plank up to their elevated condo/coop, vie for their spot on the roost, and settle in for the night. I didn’t notice that some had been out in the elements too long that afternoon.

Around 1am, I awoke and went out to do night checks. I started with the livestock in the barn. All were resting quietly. Next, I made my way around to the chicken house behind our workshop, stopping to let Mr. John’s “Little Rowdy” cat into our garage and out of the cold. With the red glow from the heat lamp emitted from the chicken house, I removed one of my gloves to judge the temperature inside. Comfortable enough, I looked over my cozy chickens and noticed that “Big Roo” (the alpha rooster) had frostbite on his comb and waddle. The blackened tips of his bright red comb (atop his head), indicating severe frostbite.

Avoidable perhaps, had I not let them out that morning, but the damage was already done. The key now is managing it. The dead part of his once majestic comb will fall off. I can’t do anything to save it, but I can keep the necrotic tissue from becoming infected. I’m hoping repeated treatments with hydrogel and keeping him out of the below freezing temperatures and wind will do the trick. As I walked back to the house after discovering the frostbite, 1 Corinthians 4:4 came to mind.

For I know of nothing against myself, yet I am not justified by this;
but He who judges me is the Lord.
(1 Corinthians 4:4 NKJV)

Sinner or saint, we often don’t see our own sin. Jesus does. #IgnoranceIsNotInnocence #JesusKnows Share on X

I thought about why my chickens stayed out when the freezing rain came through. The answer I came up with was, “They didn’t know any better.” I long-wondered why it was so difficult for people to grasp the message of the gospel of Christ. Satan tried to convince me it was because I wasn’t effective at presenting it, that I wasn’t qualified. When I look back at those initial attempts, I’m apt to agree with him. When the unsaved hear the message of the gospel, they don’t react because they don’t know any better. The apostle Paul, through his writing in Romans 3:20, stated that the knowledge of sin comes from the Law (God’s Word). Unless we read or hear God’s Law, then we are ignorant of our sin. Sometimes, the only Bible a sinner sees is us.

This doesn’t excuse us from the sin, as Leviticus 5:17 tells us. Paul’s words remind us that not all sins are visible to man, but God sees all. It is through the conviction of the Holy Spirit that reveals sin in man’s life. In the same way, once we come to the saving knowledge of Christ, even the most holy among us will experience sin in their lives. Therefore, we must “run the race of faith” as described in Hebrews 12. We must continuously seek God’s work in our lives as we actively take part in the sanctification process.

For Christians, I think the words of James 4:17 speak volumes. “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.” There are many professing Christians today are deceived to believe that God’s Law is not absolute. They are being taught to believe that man’s law, which is subjective and relative, also applies to God’s precepts. His Word clarifies that this is not the case.

There’s no bell curve on which our adherence to God’s Law is judged upon. As I’ve often said, “sin is sin”, and there’s no partial credit given at Christ’s judgment. The only hope for Christians is that the blood of Christ covers us and He is the propitiation for our sin. We can never be good enough, righteous enough, or better than others enough to earn our way into heaven.

God does not care how righteous we think we are. He cares whether we have surrendered our lives for His Son’s or not (Romans 3:23). In my own life, I can look back at my early days as a Christian and see how shallow my understanding of God’s Word and God’s Law was. There is little reason why my faith was so weak and my testimony so ineffective. I couldn’t see the sin that was hidden in plain view in my life, yet others I tried to speak with about Christ did. Like “Big Roo”, I didn’t feel the damage that was occurring as a result of the sins in my life.

As I suspect many of you have experienced, my faith slowly matured, and I realized that as long as I am here, there will be sin in my life. I must strive to give myself over to God’s sanctification of my life. My prayer for you this week is that we can all come to say as Paul did, “I am conscious of nothing against myself,”. We can only do so when we strive to attain more obedience to God until we receive that upward call. Let us each run our own race as we strive to attain the Crown of Righteousness God wants to give His faithful followers (2 Timothy 4:8).

God’s blessings,

52 thoughts on “The Wages of Sin”

  1. Evelyn Mason Wells

    This is a great post. So sorry about Big Roo’s frostbite, but I’m so glad he will be okay. I really like your analogy here. Thank you for your insight and this excellent devotion.

  2. Have you ever raised turkeys? I have to say, they are even more stupid than chickens. They will stand in the rain, looking skyward, and …. drown! Anyway, if someone calls you “chicken” it means you are a wimp, scared of little things. But the real insult comes if someone calls you a “turkey!”
    I love your connections to scripture and your own life, JD. You make God’s word more relatable, and often give us some humor to brighten our day. Thanks.

  3. My first comment is to assure you that we’ve been praying for God’s protection over you and the Cross-Dubya during this awful weather, so thanks for the mention about how it’s going. Beyond that, I can’t recall ever being more blessed, reassured, inspired, and instructed by a bunch of chickens :). Thankfully, I never had to get up in the middle of he night to check on them, but my grandma might have. If she did, she’d never have mentioned it to my brother and me anyway. I’m sure I’d be amazed if I really knew how much sleep she lost and how many ways she worked behind the scenes to protect us and the animals who depended on her.

    Anyhow, your lesson on the nature of sin and the reality of its influence on our lives and on our service to the One who redeemed us was both plain and powerful. Like you, when I look back at my life in those earlier days of endeavoring to follow Jesus, and shake my head at how little I really understood. I know that Jesus has a heart for children, but when they’re 20 or 30 or more years older and still acting like kindergarteners, it’s not so cute anymore.

    I also loved how you made it clear that sin is not something we ever get to disregard. We don’t “outgrow” it and the devil will never tire of searching for ways to slip it into our life. He the master of subtlety and deception and for followers of Jesus, vigilence is mandatory. He sees every new “convenience” that comes along, every new direction that seems beneficial, and every new opportunity that pops up as a potential access point through whtch to inject some poison, or even a sedative, into our spiritual lives. So, thank you for the informative trip to the chicken coop, Brother, and try to minimize those midnight trips to the barnyard. The lessons are great, but I’ll be praying that the Lord will hold more classes in the daylight for a while.

    1. How true Mr. Ron. Satan never tires in his efforts to draw us into his traps. I’ve found, like you, that keeping our focus on the Father helps us through each storm. God’s blessings my friend.

  4. Poor Big Roo! I’m so sorry that happened to him, but relieved to know he will be okay in the end, J. D.
    And yes, once again, you have given us a memorable analogy that will help us along to a better understanding of where we stand with God as far as sin goes. I agree that if we don’t understand the concept of sin, we will keep making the mistakes that lead us away from our loving Father, who wants nothing but the best for us. May we all know Jesus more and more in our lives.
    Blessings to you and Miss Diane!

    1. Oh, yes ma’am. I’m right there with you. It seems that with every step forward I take, two are added sometimes. Yet, we must be faithful and continue on His path. God’s blessings ma’am.

  5. Warren A Johnson

    Ahhhh, sin. Most have heard the term is from archery. I grew up with a bow/arrows and have a lifetime of traditional bow shooting. The word sin applies to missing the target. So, our life events that don’t attain the target Jesus/God set for us, leaves a sin. I think of it this way. When I don’t hit the target, my arrow flies off and can do collateral damage. It’s not just I didn’t score that’s the sin, it’s what it tells others about my character. Lack of practice, not maintaining my tools, sloppy technique all yell lack of attention to basics. Kinda like missing the value of salvation and letting it slide.

    Thanks for bringing the old man’s heart back to a life lesson I often forget.

  6. Bop and I have been thinking about you all during this awful weather. Our family in Wimberley has shared about the cold temperatures. Thank you for reminding us that we are in need of God in every situation. Your messages always come at the exact time I need them. God is perfect with His timing. Have a blessed week! Praying you, Ms. Diane, and Mr. John, and all the animals are safe and warm and covered with His love. 🙂

  7. Kathy Collard Miller

    JD, I’m so very grateful for God’s patience and mercy. Thank you, as always, for directing our hearts to our great God.

  8. Keith Balistrieri

    Thank you for this! It’s so true. May the Holy Spirit continue to open our minds to God’s hatred of sin and may we never forget how much He loves us to have Jesus come and pay for our sins in full. What a Savior we have. I believe the knowledge of sin and its consequences makes us run to that blood stained cross of redemption. Now may we be the light of Christ to the world and introduce others to Him by the power of the Holy Spirit. Give hugs Ms Diane and Mr John! May God continue to bless you in sharing these truths with us all!

    1. Amen my brother! May we always run to Him, and may He not have to always convict us first. My favorite time of day is when I spiritually crawl onto Father’s lap and rest there in His comfort before my day gets started. His presence stays with us, and that helps us avoid the sin that is lurking around every corner.

  9. I’ve been pondering Romans 7 recently. Sin is no joke. Paul recognized the war going on between the law of his mind that knew Truth but is in opposition to the law of sin and death. His struggle with repetitive trips to the well of sin despite a desire to run from it, is relatable and enlightening. Much more going on that we see in the heavenly realms. Praise God, he fights for us when we cry out in our attempt to walk rightly. His grace is sufficient when we don’t. Thanks, JD. Blessings to you and Roo!

  10. Like you, my friend, I was slow in recognizing my ongoing sinful state when I became a Christian. I’m so grateful our loving Father is patient with us and continues to guide me on my journey as I stumble and fall. Like your rooster, there was a time I didn’t “know better” but now I do. That doesn’t stop me from making mistakes and still falling prey to sin, but now that I’m so much closer to our Lord, that “still, small Voice” convicts me when I mess up. God gives us responsibility for those animals, but that doesn’t mean we will always be perfect in caring for them. We make mistakes but we continue to learn how to care for His creation. Thank you for this inspiring message, J.D. Hoping we’ll get a break from this cold. May God continue to bless you all.

  11. I was just reading that verse in 1 Corinthians, J.D., and thinking about how unqualified we are to judge ourselves. Thankfully, we have the Holy Spirit to advise us about our true state. Thanks for a great lesson from the Cross Dubya.

    1. Thank you Ms. Annie. How important it is that we don’t allow our worldly selves to judge, but to be attuned to what the Holy Spirit leads in our life. When He’s silent, I know I need to seek Him out to help me see where I’ve gone astray.

  12. What a perfect analogy for sin in our lives. Thanks for sharing JD and for teaching me about chickens. You’re a blessing

  13. I guess here was a reason my parents used the phrase “That person doesn’t have enough sense to come in out of the rain.” I didn’t know that was a real thing with chickens.

    It’s too true that we’re blind to our own sins until God points them out to us. I’m grateful He does that slowly–how overwhelming it would be to have everything shown to us at once. He’s always ready to take us to the next step and keep working to sanctify us. May we be ready to believe, follow, and obey.

  14. Ouch, that frostbite sounds horrible. I hope the treatment works well. But it is a great analogy. James 4:17 has always been a favorite verse of mine and sobering truth. To know the right thing to do and not do it equals sin. It does away with all the attempts to classify sins into the lesser sins and worse sins (black and white-listing them so to speak). Which we know is not even biblical. I pray continue in my call and walk with the Lord as an obedient child.

    1. Good message, JD. We don’t see our own sin. It’s our own unrealized frostbite. May we see the tasks God sets before us and walk into them with confidence from Him. God bless v

  15. We’re saved by grace through faith and this is a gift of God, lest any man should boast. I still get upset when I sin. But I have to believe in grace and the blood of Jesus, which cleanses me from all unrighteousness. I still have to believe that we’re under Grace and not law. I understand that there is cheap Grace. Therefore, I say to God, do not let your grace be without effect in my life. The effect of grace is a righteous life. Except for imputed righteousness, it will always be imperfect right living. Any other view would make me want to give up!

    1. I like that Ms. Gina, “imperfect right living”. It’s recognizing that we will remain imperfect, trapped by our carnal, sinful nature. We must fight the good fight of faith to prove ourselves worthy of His upward call. God’s blessings young lady.

  16. I was thinking you could leave a trail of feed for them to scratch their way to the pen. Like breadcrumbs. Or maybe use delicious breadcrumbs!!! Love your stories. Sorry for Roo.
    You make several poignant statements.
    Sometimes the only Bible people read is our lives.
    His word clarifies that His word is absolute. Truth. And quoting James about knowingly sinning. So convicting.

    1. Thank you Ms. Cathy. We must always be mindful that we have a human spirit that will war with the Holy Spirit until the day we are set free from the bonds of sin fully and completely.

  17. What has always stood out to me regarding that verse is the verse before and after it. I want to be like Paul and care very little when others judge me. After saying the Lord judges us, Paul continues with this amazing verse. “Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God.” I’d expect to hear we’ll receive a scolding. But he says we’ll receive praise from God. That thrills me to think God knows our new nature that is patterned in the likeness of Christ wants to please God even though the flesh continues to resist the good we want to do. I hope your rooster heals. That sounds so painful. And I hope I don’t act like him and stay in a bad place.

  18. What an excellent analogy! I’m sorry that it had to come at the expense of your poor Roo, but he is darn lucky to have you to check on him during the night and care for his frostbite. I love your scripture references regarding sin—so powerful— and James is my very favorite book. May we be filled with the light of the Holy Spirit, and may He convict us and sanctify us on this sojourn through life. Prayers for safety and warmth for everyone at the ranch as we continue through this cold snap. Blessings to all.

    1. I too am a big fan of the book of James my friend. It shows me how to grow up and become a mature Christian. So glad you enjoyed the post ma’am. God sure has rewarded us with some nice temps this week, hasn’t He Prayers for your sainted mama.

  19. I always find these glimpses of life on the farm interesting, and the spiritual lessons you draw from them are relevant and beautiful. Blessings my friend.

  20. I must thank you for saying the following: “I long-wondered why it was so difficult for people to grasp the message of the gospel of Christ. Satan tried to convince me it was because I wasn’t effective at presenting it, that I wasn’t qualified.” I am still kinda beating myself up after a feeble and unsuccessful attempt of witnessing to a mom and her family at their home in Honduras. I felt as though I had done a poor job of expressing the joy of salvation. Maybe it was Satan. Still, I believe somehow, someway God’s Word was heard and acted upon in His time, in His way.
    I’m so sorry about Big Roo. Lessons learned, I guess, on everybody’s part.

    1. Oh, my dear Ms. Karen. Every attempt made to share Christ’s gospel message with others, when it’s made from our heart, is a SUCCESS. Perhaps it’s easier for me to grasp this concept because I’m a farmer, but I’ve come to recognize that not all the seed I sow lands on fertile, receptive ground. Sometimes it finds the edge of a field or pasture that hasn’t been tilled, fertilized, or otherwise prepared. Some of the seed may germinate but it never lasts because it is not meant to. I remind myself after every encounter that “God brings the harvest.” Our job, sweet friend, is to sow the seeds of faith. Keep tossing out Jesus into the lives of others. The Holy Spirit will prepare the hearts of those in His time to receive and germinate those sown seeds ma’am. God’s blessings. And thanks for wishes for Big Roo. He’s back to being obnoxious and kicked halfway across the yard or smacked with my walking stick once a week or so. LOL

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