Warts and all

I have one lofty goal for 2019: rid my children of warts. “Aim high,” I always say. This may seem silly, but a wart-free household would be a major victory right now. You see, warts are gross, and the fact that my kids have them makes me feel gross and also like I have failed to ensure that they are clean human beings. Seventy-five percent of my children have at least one wart; I feel like this is a failing grade for me as a mother. One child has a wart on each hand, where the Band-Aids and tape are visible for all to see . . . and comment on, prompting shame. At least the other warts in the family are all on their feet, hidden away under layers of Wisconsin winter wear; however, those are the ones easier to ignore, and then all of a sudden the virus is out of control, warts are everywhere, and it almost makes sense to excise whole toes and be done with it. 

It dawned on me that this wart debacle in my household at least can be used as a great allegory for the virus of sin, spreading and deepening its roots in us. Some sins are out there in the open, like the warts on my son’s hands, prompting a bit more shame and a sense of urgency to confess that help is needed. But some are hidden away on pinky toes, festering and growing, spreading their sickness to other more prominent toes.

God didn’t talk about warts much in the Bible (perhaps because there were more dire skin diseases like leprosy and boils to be measuring); instead, God used yeast as a similar word picture for sin, as bread making was a process his people knew.

In the book of Exodus, as God was preparing the Israelites for the Passover, he made it very clear that they needed to remove the yeast from their houses so that it would not work its way into their unleavened bread. This yeast-free bread was powerful imagery for God’s people every time they celebrated the Passover meal thereafter. 

Years later, in a letter to the Corinthians, Paul used that same image of yeast as he warned the congregation to expel the sin among them: “Don’t you know that a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough? Get rid of the old yeast, so that you may be a new unleavened batch—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed” (1 Corinthians 5:6,7).

I love making bread; it is always amazing to me that the tiny yeast organisms can permeate the whole batch and cause the dough to rise and grow. Amazing . . . and a bit scary when you start picturing that yeast as sin, working its way through our hearts, through our families, through our congregations. Paul knew the pervasive effects of sin, and that is why he urged the Corinthians to get to the root of their problem. This is not a simple process, but it is a necessary one.

Allow me to give you a glimpse of the wart-removal process that happens in my house every night. There is a headlamp and a Leatherman involved. There is poking, scraping, digging; and there is blood and there are tears. There is comfort for the children, but there are also murmurings of, “Quit crying or I’ll give you something to cry about! This is for your own good!” And after the little soldiers have retired to their bunks, there is the disinfecting and the spraying of antibacterial essential oils on the bathroom battlefield. All this to ensure that no new warts spring up among us. It is painful to get at the root of the wart. It is painful to get at the root of sin. But only when we are scrubbed by the pumice stone of the law can we realize the full cleansing power of the gospel. 

Dear Christian, it may seem daunting, discouraging, and downright impossible to get rid of this yeast infection of sin. But did you catch that last part of the passage in Corinthians? Paul said, “Get rid of the old yeast, so that you may be a new unleavened batch—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.” What he is saying is that God looks at us—warts and all—and he sees his own Son, our Passover Lamb. He sees us as we really are, scoured by the blood of Christ. Confession. Absolution. And then comes the joy of living as we really are, sanctified children of God, awaiting the day we join him in heaven, which is blessedly wart free. 



Missy lives in Green Bay, WI, with her husband, Jon, where they own and run Copper State Brewing Company. She homeschools their four active children, oftentimes at the brewery, and they somehow keep learning in spite of her. Missy loves witty banter, adventures of all sorts, and coffee . . . lots of coffee. And Jesus . . . lots of Jesus.


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