I woke up today with a case of vertigo. As I got out of bed and began walking downstairs, the room was tilting, my focus was bouncing, and my stomach was rolling over and over. Thinking a good cup of coffee would remedy the situation I walked through a dark kitchen and flipped on the light. But that's where I had to stop. I really felt as though the floor was shifting and the whole world was tilting back and forth. It was, at the same time, both interesting and horrible.
It's happened to me before, and my physician friend Bill Pollock advised me to do some simple exercises to regain my equilibrium. So, I carefully made my way upstairs, sat on the bed, and ever so slowly bent sideways to the right until my head hit the pillow. Then I raised myself up very slowly until upright before repeating the movements to the left. I did this over and over a few times, and - amazingly - felt 80% better after about 30 minutes.
Why? It seems there is a little calcium bead in the inner ear that needs to roll around in the right place, and if it gets dislodged or stuck, vertigo is the result.
My point here actually isn't about vertigo. It is about how something so small, so seemingly ignorable, can bring you to your knees.
As I spent the morning walking gingerly, mentally trying to stave off nausea, it reminded me once again I must never consider any sin to be insignificant. Small ethical concessions can have large ramifications. Momentary lapses in integrity can create lasting problems. Spontaneous decisions to engage in immoral activities can form the foundation of dangerous habits.
And the trouble with many small sins is we find ways to mask their danger. We even make room for them as they become what the writer of Hebrews labels the "sin which clings so closely" (Hebrews 12:1). They become our "pet sins" and blend in so easily with our normal way of life. Unlike my vertigo, some transgressions anesthetize us to their devastating presence, and kill us slowly, incrementally, all the while tricking us into thinking we're really okay.
Today the situation swirling around Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church in Seattle is a giant reminder of sin's power to deceive even the most gifted and useful servants of God. There is no doubt Mark has been called and crafted by God with a mind and abilities seldom seen. But at some point, small indiscretions went uncorrected in his life. Arrogance was redefined as courageous leadership, anger as righteous indignation, and mean-spirited dismissal of ministry partners as passionate focus on the mission. Eventually, it was big things that brought about the present erosion of his ministry. But make no mistake: they all started small!
That's the real cause of sorrow here. All the harm Mark has caused could have been avoided if he would have taken Paul's advice to Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:16: "Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers."
In most cases the charge of micromanaging is a huge criticism. But when it comes to keeping a close watch on ourselves, micromanaging is essential. We must be hard on our selves. We must micromanage our wants and desires, matching them with the truth of God to keep them in check. We must plead with God never to give us more happiness than holiness.
For me that means keeping the "vertigo" illustration close at hand. A little calcium deposit, somehow finding its way into the wrong space in my inner ear made my whole body weak, wobbly, and unfit for the day.
Sin, even though considered small, can become a force that can't be compartmentalized. Sin can't be kept in a locked box. It will seep out and infect other areas of your life.
So, become a micromanager of you thoughts, of your affections, and of your soul. Populate your life with righteousness and make no provision for the little sins of the flesh that want to ruin you.