Have you had someone say to you “You need to nip that in the bud”? It is usually said about a behaviour or a habit. Why do people say it? Well, it means “to put a stop to it while it is still in its early development”.

When we think of this in relation to addictions many programmes will advocate abstinence, think alcoholics anonymous, gamblers anonymous.

Now perhaps you would not call yourself a follower of Jesus and may be wondering why a minister of a church would be talking about this, maybe you are a follower of Jesus and are wondering why am I talking about this? Well, the bible talks about nipping certain things in the bud before they give birth to sin. We will be able to learn lessons that will help us is many areas of our everyday lives:

Let us look at a warning from James the half-brother of Jesus.

James 1:14-15

14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

Here James is warning that when we start do desire something, something that is wrong in this case it can give birth to sin. What a picture, when something has been birthed it has a life of its own, it will grow.

Note that a person, that you can be tempted when we are lured and enticed, a lure looks appealing, think of a fishing lure it is designed to attract the fish to bite, entice is associated with something that draws you in, our desires can lure us in, they can deceive us, think of someone has an addiction, one drink, one cigarette, one bet, one chocolate soon becomes two, three, four it gets out of control, oh to have nipped it in the bud!

St Augustine is quoted as saying “total abstinence is easier than perfect moderation”

We should be tempted to think we can moderate our desires so that they do not grow into sin.

Some of you may say, temptations are all around we cannot help it, well there is a saying, just because birds fly over your head there is no need to let them nest in our hair!

The bible has advice on how to deal with situations, how to nip certain things in the bud, to stop them giving birth.

Let us look at a few of them:

Matthew 5:27-30

27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.

Now we could spend time looking at adultery here and I am sure that would be a good use of time, but I am not going to, rather let us look at what Jesus says to do when we realise, we are sinning in this way:

29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell.

Now Jesus is speaking in Hyperbole here, He is emphasizing the seriousness of the situation, the requirement for taking serious actions to stop the sin growing. Jesus wants it nipped in the bud. Adultery starts in desire, addictions start in desires, in temptations, the antidote is to end them there. Take drastic action. Deal with the issue, quickly decisively.

Are you prepared to take the necessary action to not start down that road?

Let us look at another example, anger:

Ephesians 4:26-27

26 “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold.

One of the dictionary definitions of foothold is: A secure position from which further progress can be made.

Considering this definition let us re-read v27: and do not give the devil a foothold. If we take anger with us, if we hold on to it, it we do not deal with it we are giving ground to the devil, a place where he can advance from, from that place the risk is he advances in to more and more areas of our life.

Maxine Dunnam said:

We must be careful what we bury in our heart. To bury something does not mean it is dead. It may simply mean we have buried something alive that will devour and destroy as from within.

Once we have allowed sin it, one it has a foothold it has a base of operations from which to build.

Nip it in the bud.

Maybe you know relationships that could have been saved if action had been taken to deal with issues quicker before they grew.

Are you frustrated at work? Deal with things quickly do not let them fester, take root, gain a foothold.

We could go on and talk about other areas where things are best nipped in the bud but let us look at who we are encouraged to take root in, to not nip in the bud.

Colossians 2:6-7

6 So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, 7 rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

Our answer, our way of nipping things in the bud is to be rooted in Jesus. Jesus will help us, when He ascended to heaven the Holy Spirit was sent to be our helper, our guide.

1 Peter 2:21

To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.

Rooted in the teachings of Jesus, rooted in the ways of Jesus we can flourish, we need not nip His ways in the bud.

Of course, you can make excuses, you can refuse to act, but as D L Moody says:

Excuses are the cradle that satan rocks men off to sleep in

So, what do you need to nip in the bud?

Adam Boud