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A Little Leaven

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A Little Leaven

Sourdough is now the greatest thing since sliced bread. People from all walks of life are jumping on the bakery bandwagon, experimenting with different recipes and techniques to achieve the perfect loaf. This trend first swept the nation in 2020 because everyone was isolated in quarantine and store bought yeast was in short supply. Since baking sourdough requires a lot of time and very few ingredients (both of which everyone had), it was the perfect pandemic bread. And the sourdough trend is still in style today, causing some to question whether Jesus was telling the truth when He said that man does not live on bread alone!

However, although sourdough has been all the rage recently, it is not a recent invention; in fact, it predates sliced bread. The ancient world relied solely upon sourdough's active ingredient--wild yeast produced by flour, water, and time. And this wild yeast was commonly known as "leaven." Bakers in ancient days would retain a pinch of fermented dough or leaven from the previous week and add it to a new lump of dough to accelerate the fermentation process. The little sour fragment would morph with the new lump, so much so that it was impossible to separate the leaven from the lump.

It is no surprise, then, that the Scripture likens sin to leaven, since it quickly spreads its sourness into the heart and life of anyone who kneads it. It only takes a little leaven of evil to corrupt your testimony, taint your mind, ruin your relationships, or destroy your church. Sin infiltrates insidiously and permeates progressively--and it doesn't take much to sow irreparable damage. That is why Paul the apostle warned, "Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened" (1 Cor. 5:6-7a; cf. Gal. 5:9).

Believers must be vigilant against evil, no matter how small and harmless it may seem. As Jesus cautioned, "Watch and beware of the leaven" (Matt. 16:6a). Additionally, we must cast out any leaven in our hearts and minds before it has the chance to fester and spread sour corruption to our lives. And if we find ourselves spoiled by sin's influence, we must turn to Christ for cleansing. As the Puritan Thomas Adams (1583-1652) encouraged, "Our leaven hath soured us, but we are made sweet again by the all-perfuming blood of our blessed Savior."

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