Many years ago we were members of a small church. Like many such congregations, this one operated like a family. We knew each other well, frequently were in each other’s homes, shared each other’s joys and sorrows, and helped each other get through life. There were unpleasant aspects to it, of course, but it was a good place to bring up our young children and remain connected to our God. Then one day I got angry at something. The cause was mostly inside myself: the Lord was dealing with things that caused me internal pain, and since I did not know how to handle the trials, no one knew what was happening or how to help me. All they knew was that I had become disagreeable.
The most serious outburst I caused concerned the worship music in Sunday services. I was a choir member, and I wanted to sing the songs I had known in much larger congregations. What I did not consider was that our choir director was doing the best she could with the very limited resources at her disposal. The pastor stepped in to mediate the dispute, offering wise counsel which I chose not to hear. Then the elders stepped in, and in their kind yet firm way, rebuked me for causing division. My response was yet more anger, accusing them of being wrong. I had taken a job in a new city, so we moved before I could cause any serious trouble, but I was not reconciled to the pastor and elders until God acquainted me with my guilt and the need to fix the problem. The solution was a letter of apology to the pastor and elders. They responded very quickly with a gracious letter of forgiveness. Although we still have doctrinal disagreements, that issue of contention which I caused is no longer a source of division between us.
The leaven of the world is tempting. It creates a certain kind of scrumptiousness; being embraced and recognized by the world can be intoxicating. But we are not of this world. We must avoid that leaven.
“Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened [bread] of sincerity and truth.”
(1 Corinthians 5:8, NKJV)
It does not take much leaven to affect the whole lump of dough. When we find ourselves tempted by malice and wickedness, we must look to Him who has authored and perfected our faith (Hebrews 12:2).