On Friday June 12, 2013 a passenger train carrying 370 people derailed just miles outside the city of Paris. Six people were killed and twenty-two others injured when four cars of the train went off the track. Surveillance footage from the station showed a scene of devastation, with the derailed train cars twisted and crumpled across the platform and track. Rescue workers searched frantically through the wreckage for the dead and injured. The president of France witnessed the carnage and immediately launched a full investigation for the cause of the debacle. Authorities claim that the train was traveling at a normal speed, so the culprit was not due to human error. Turns out, the cause of the fiery crash was a small part that disconnected from the switching mechanism on the tracks. Investigators suggested that a “fishplate” or joint bar that bolted two rails together on the track was loose and prevented the train’s wheels from staying on course.
As I read of that tragedy the thought occurred to me how small things can cause big problems. Doesn't it seem unbelievable that a powerful, swift-moving locomotive can be felled by one piece of defective steel? Yet when we turn into the Bible we find warnings in both Old and New Testaments that it just takes a little sin to do much harm. Solomon warned against the “the little foxes that spoil the vineyards” (Song 2:15) and how one dead fly can cause “the perfumer's ointment to give off a stench” (Ecc. 10:1). Paul added that, “A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump” (Gal. 5:9).
Just as a train can be derailed by one faulty switch so too a person’s life can be devastated by small intrusions of sin and moral compromises. The danger is that many of us are not aware of these seemingly innocuous character defects until the damage has already been done. Knowledge of this should keep us humble and on our knees asking the Lord to reveal potential places of weakness in our lives. When He identifies them we should be quick to shore up those places where we know we are susceptible. The Bible continually reminds us that we must be on guard: “testing our faith to see if it is genuine” (1 Cor. 13:5), “putting to death the flesh” (Col. 3:5), “watching and praying lest we enter into temptation” (Matt. 26:41). Have we been honest enough with God and ourselves to give Him the freedom to point out where we are weak? Let’s ask the Lord to help us inspect all areas of our lives and be obedient to His promptings towards holiness. -DM