Several months ago, I accidentally stepped into a pile of fire…well, fire ants actually. I had run barefoot outside to my front yard to move the lawn sprinkler and was viciously attacked by the little critters.

Little they may be, but they shore pack a wallop. The pain from their “welcome to our domain” greeting continued for a couple of days. Then came the welts, and those lasted for seemingly weeks, but finally even those disappeared.

Then I noticed them. All around my ankle, pronounced and clearly visible…the scars. I actually thought they would vanish quickly. “Surely they won’t be there long, they will fade like scars usually do.” But no way. After all these months, those reminders seem to be here to stay.

Reminds me of what sin can do to every one of us. When we get duped by Satan into a sinful behavior, that behavior bites into our life and causes repercussions that we never imagined. When you realize too late how destructive and hurtful it is, you may turn from it and deny it any further access into your life, but sin always leaves a sting, and it can even destroy. It can be removed and forgiven and perhaps even forgotten, but know this… the consequences will happen and the scars can remain.

A person can be repentant, sorrowful, remorseful, and ashamed. And yes, God can and does wipe out the His penalty and punishment for our deeds. But still, the earthly scars and consequences remain.

Examples come quickly to mind; one night of sinful, heedless sexual pleasure can leave you with a serious disease, pregnancy, or mental pictures of your sin that never go away. Lies and cheating will leave deep scars of shame and guilt. Abusing your body with drugs, nicotine and alcohol will leave long-term effects to be dealt with. In the case of letting your tongue or your actions cause abuse to another person, just because the “I’m sorrys” have been said, those words do not remove the hurt from the other person’s heart. The scars remain.

Be careful how you walk and live, because sin is ever present. And when you do slip, be sure to truly repent of your sinful actions and seek God’s forgiveness. And also the forgiveness of those around you whom you have hurt.

But probably there will be scars, so learn from the scars. See your scars as a reminder of how sin hurts. Hate the fact that it has happened in your life and be determined to never allow yourself to hurt you, God, and others in that way again. Because scars remain.