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)
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).