I’ve had some serious heartburn lately – probably as a result of the wonderfully greasy cafeteria food. Let me tell you, no discomfort compares to the pain a delicious slice of buffalo chicken pizza causes, especially if I have foregone my heartburn medication in the morning.
Believe it or not, some good has come out of my heartburn though. As I am forced to avoid greasy foods I am pushed toward healthier foods; thus, the pain has taught me to eat a little better.
I’ve also learned an important spiritual lesson through the matter.
This may sound crazy to you, but I see heartburn as a metaphor for the consequences of sin.
Sin can cause a lot of pain in life. Often, a rebellious act of sin seems pleasant and rewarding at the time, but then leads to agony and regret. Just as buffalo chicken pizza is delicious at the time of consumption yet brings discomfort later on, so an appealing act of wickedness brings discomfort down the road.
Our actions have consequences – and sometimes that hurts a lot.
However, the pain also brings wisdom and growth. See, after feeling the aftermath of greasy foods, I learn what to avoid in future scenarios; similarly, the fall brought by sin teaches us to submit to the Lord and avoid walking in the flesh – thus yielding maturation in Christ.
Avoiding the pain altogether, though, is much better than learning a lesson after the pain. I feel best when I take my heartburn medication in the morning – it prevents any pain that may come throughout the rest of the day. In the same way, we can avoid the consequential pain of sin.
Now, what I am not saying is that we can somehow prevent the pain of sinning by “taking a medication”, while still committing sinful acts; so, this is where the metaphor breaks up a bit. What I am saying is this: we can prevent sin, thus preventing pain.
Much like I take my medication in the morning to thwart heartburn, I can spend time with the Lord – so that I may discipline myself and learn to walk in the Spirit; this gives me wisdom and power to reject the temptation of Satan and the sin that so easily entangles us. Therefore, because time spent abiding in the Lord’s presence prepares me to resist sin, I am able to avoid the painful results of wickedness.
You see, because of God’s grace, we can enter into a life-changing relationship with Him and be saved from a spiritual existence of pain - as we daily get to know Him deeper. The agony and regret can be avoided, as we live to know the Lord and live in obedience to His directions.
I think Psalm 119:11 is a great summary verse for this post.
I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.
You don’t have to live with spiritual heartburn.