I recently read about an 8 year old girl, Aryanna Schneeberg, from Campbellsport, Wisconsin, who was playing in her backyard when she was suddenly struck in the back with an arrow.
The arrow penetrated her lung, spleen, stomach and liver, which required a 2 ½ hour surgery to save Aryanna’s life.
Following an investigation, Sheriff Mylan Fink reported that a teen boy and his friend were shooting arrows at squirrels from the balcony of an apartment complex.
The girl is ‘very lucky to be alive,’ Fink said. “Had we changed the trajectory by as little as two centimeters, this could have been a very bad outcome.”
Regardless, little Aryanna will bear the scars of that injury for the rest of her life, as well as the emotional trauma from this horrific incident.
It reminds me of how often so many of us preachers have explained the Greek word for sin, hamartia, as “missing the mark.” Apparently, the word was used in archery and spear throwing. When they missed the bulls eye or the target, the word “hamartia” was used.
In application, I’ve heard and said that when we “miss the mark” of God’s Word, we sin. However, one writer pointed out that sin is “worse than simply missing a target or making a mistake.”
These Bible passages point out sin’s seriousness.
- Sin is lawlessness against God’s law (1 Jn. 3:4).
- Sin is rebellion against God (Rom. 13:2; 1Tim. 1:9).
- Sin is unrighteousness (1 Jn. 5:17).
- Sin enslaves us to unholy passions (Rom. 6:12-19).
- Sin separates us from a relationship with God (Isa. 59:1-2).
- Sin sent Jesus to die on the cross (Eph. 1:7).
- Sin results in spiritual death (Rom. 6:23).
But in addition to all of that, as Jim Denison observed there is the “collateral damage of sin.” Think of little Aryanna Schneeberg.
Here’s a innocent little girl playing in her back yard without a care in the world, when suddenly a stray arrow changes her life forever. The boy who missed the mark did more than just make a mistake. Or fail to hit his intended target. He wounded another person.
The sin of adultery hurts families. Think of the collateral damage done to a husband or wife. To children. To mothers and fathers. To brothers and sisters. To a church family. To one’s reputation. What was once the secret liaison of two people satisfying their fleshly desires, has impacted dozens of people.
The sin of drunkenness hurts more than we will ever know. The family not only suffers, but so does our work force. Society suffers. Innocent people suffer. The collateral damage of a drunken driver who kills a mother or father, changes the lives of so many people forever.
The sin of gossip hurts not only the target of its intended victim but untold numbers of people. Often damage is done that cannot be undone.
There’s an old story about a man who said something about his neighbor that was untrue. The word spread around the village as one person told another. But soon the truth came out—what could the man do who spread the gossip. So, he went to the village preacher for advice.
“Take a bag full of feathers and place one feather on the doorstep of each person to whom you told the untrue story. Then go back a day later, pick up the feather, and bring the bag back to me.”
So the man did as instructed. But when he went back to pick up the feathers nearly all of them were gone. When he returned to the preacher he said, “I did as you said but when I went back the wind had blown the feathers away and I could not get them back.”
“So it is with careless words” the preacher replied. “Once they are spoken, they cannot be taken back. You may ask forgiveness for what you said but you cannot take your words back. The damage has already been done.”
Rarely, if ever, is sin committed in a vacuum. It’s collateral damage is far reaching, often with serious, unintended consequences.
Sin is worse than a stray arrow that missed a target. Just ask little Aryanna Schneeberg.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman