The Parable of the Stove
The little girl knows the rule. She has been given the command “Do not touch the stove”. She has been told of the consequences “If you touch the stove you are going to be in trouble. You will be punished. Do not touch the stove”. She has been warned of the dangers “If you touch this stove it could burn your hand severely. You will be in a lot of pain. You will cry a lot. We may even have to take you to the Dr., or even worse, the hospital. Do not touch the stove.” And so one day, when no one is around… when no one is watching… with great curiosity and anxiety she reaches out… and touches the stove. What happens? Ab… solutely… nothing. Nada. Zilch. Zero. Nothing.
She was told there would be consequences. She was told there would be dangers. With loud commands she had received these apocalyptic warnings, and now… nothing. And so she thought, “That wasn’t too bad.” She thought, “What’s wrong with touching the stove?” She thought… “Let me touch it again.” And so she touches it again. And still… nothing. She becomes emboldened. She begins to believe that this is no big deal. She thinks that touching the stove is perfectly fine. She grows accustomed to touching the stove when no one is around; and guess what… when she touches it… “it’s not the end of the world.” And so she begins to risk other behavior about which she has been warned.
One day she gets caught touching the stove while it was off. Slap on the hand from momma. “Uh oh. I better not do it again! (while momma is around)” she thought. Then one day momma is not around… and the stove is on. She reaches up as she had done so many times before, but this time when she touches it, she reels back screaming in pain. She is crying. She is wailing and flailing on the floor. Her mom rushes in to see what had happened and her worst fears were realized. She gets taken to the doctor. The doctor patches her up. She goes home. She’s in a lot of pain, but she sure is getting a lot of loving attention from everyone. She goes to sleep, and then she wakes up the next day… and the world didn’t come to an end.
It seems like a very unfulfilling place to end a story doesn’t it? But the truth is, the story was over the first time she touched the stove. The first time she touched the stove is when she broke the command. All the rest of the story is just about how she corrupted her conscience. All the rest of the story is about how she hid her wrong, justified her wrong, and was emboldened in her wrong. Yes, the story was over before it barely began; and unfortunately, it mirrors our lives in so many ways.
Consider King David in II Samuel 11. He’s out walking on his balcony and a woman named Bathsheba catches his eye. From there he inquires about her, he sends for her, he gets her husband drunk, and ultimately KILLS HIM! But the story was over from the moment his eyes lingered on that rooftop; wasn’t it? THAT… is the deception and progression of sin!
The hem line of the skirt goes up just an inch, and the world didn’t come to an end. And so next year it goes up another inch, and another inch, and another inch until sooner, rather than later, the girl can’t sit down (or maybe even walk around) without her backside hanging out.
At first it us just one beer… in the privacy of one’s home...when no one is around or watching, and the world didn’t come to an end. And so tomorrow it is two beers, and then it is three. Then perhaps it becomes social drinking, and then to drinking and driving; and one day you wake up either in jail...or rehab.
They are just in the car alone together. No big deal. Nothing major happened. They just talked. They were alone in the car together just talking, and the world didn’t come to an end. And then next time it was just a little kiss. And then next time, they were boyfriend and girlfriend, and making out. From clothes on to clothes off. From two kids “young, and wild, and free”… to pregnant with an STD.
It was just a pause. A little flirtatious glance, and the world didn’t end. “It will never happen again”… until it does. Another flirtatious stare turns into a “Hello”. “Hello” turns into coffee. Coffee turns into a clandestine dinner. The dinner conversation is fun and exciting, and the world hasn’t come to an end… yet. Dinner turns into a “good bye” at the front door, and we know that ends up turning into a full blown affair.
“It is just”… you get the point don’t you? It always starts somewhere. And that somewhere is the heart. (James 1:13-16; Mt. 5:18-19) That somewhere is the justification. That somewhere is our conscience being worn down because “last time” I sinned… “It wasn’t the end of the world”. Is that what it’ll take for us to stop? Is that what it’ll take for us to do the right thing? Does our world have to “fall apart”… before we learn?
When it comes to sin, “one time”… is one too many. It’s not the amount of times that makes it a sin; it is the nature of the action that makes it a sin. (I Jn. 3:4) When we allow our minds to become corrupted, when we allow our consciences to be worn down, when we lower our standards, when we think “one time won’t hurt anything” or “one time won’t hurt anyone”… IT ALREADY HAS!!! Jesus has already died for your sin! (Is. 53:5; I Pt. 2:24) Your sin has already killed Jesus. Your sin has already placed the crown of thorns on His head, it has already mocked Him, it has already lashed Him, it has already spit upon Him, it has already beaten Him, it has already NAILED HIM TO THE CROSS! When you sin, your world may not come to an end, and you may not even suffer… but that doesn’t mean no one suffers.
“The Day the World Didn’t End” is the same day as “The day the patience of God kept waiting” (II Peter 3:10). And that’s all it is. The world didn’t keep going on because what you did wasn’t a sin; it kept going on because God was giving you one more day to repent of the sin to which you pridefully cling; because He loves you. (II Peter 3:9; Ezekiel 18:30-32; II Timothy 2:3-4)