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"Sinfestation:" Something Good Can Become Something Bad

Updated: Jul 25, 2023

Nest of gypsy moth caterpillars

The Gypsy Moth

In 1869 Leopold Trouvelot of Massachusetts imported the gypsy moth into the USA from Europe. He had hopes of breeding these animals with the domestic silkworms in order to produce a heartier variety of silkworm. The crossbreeding was not successful in creating a heartier silkworm, nonetheless, some of the gypsy moths escaped cultivation and have since wrought havoc upon the forests and adjacent areas of the northeastern part of North America.

In areas where there is a heavy gypsy moth infestation, the sides of houses will be covered with the dark caterpillars, perhaps for weeks. The caterpillars will suspend themselves on their silk strands from trees or other elevated structures, bringing themselves to the ground, perhaps to land in your hair (or on your bare scalp) before making it all the way down. They can be seen by the thousands crossing highways, of course with many of them being splattered thereupon. They will leave their nasty and dirty looking clusters of “silk” strands all over the corners and nooks and crannies of the outsides of houses, the caterpillars will pupate on the sides of buildings and then pupae will hatch, leaving the empty chrysalises behind. The thick foliage of trees becomes thin or nonexistent, leaving normally dark canopies of forests much lighter or bare. Pieces of leaves fall to the ground in June, looking much like leaf fragments that one would expect to see in November after the lawn mower with the mulching blade had made a couple of passes. When the wind isn’t blowing and it is otherwise quiet, it often sounds like a light rain falling, as the caterpillars drop their little hard balls of excrement in mass, to bounce off of the leaves, before making it to the ground, or on your patio, your deck, your boat, your outdoor furniture, or on your head.

Much money and time has gone into, and continues to go into attempts to rid the region of these pests, or at least to mitigate them. They have managed to be a scourge to the Northeast of North America for nearly 150 years, and there seems to be no end to this infestation in sight.

The Apostle John, at the end of his first epistle, tells us to keep ourselves from idols (1 John 5:21); he knew how damaging they could be and how miserable they can ultimately make us. Idols of all sorts are the hallmarks of sin; anything that we put before God is an idol. Not putting God first is a sin; a sin we’re all regularly guilt of in one way or another [likely in many ways].

When we let idols into our lives, they can be, and very often are, very much like the gypsy moth infestation that I just described. They may start off “contained,” so to speak and may indeed seem harmless, however as we all know, one thing can lead to another and soon whatever it may be has “escaped” and has spread and found its way into [perhaps intricately woven into] multiple areas of our lives; infesting them; causing a great deal of stress and difficulties of many sorts and even leading to other forms of sin and damage that are very hard to, or perhaps impossible to get rid of [at least on our own power]. Much of our resources that could have been spent elsewhere now have to be spent dealing with the consequences of letting this idol in and turning it loose.

Much in the same way that the gypsy moth is not a bad organism in and of its self, but is a bad thing in the wrong place, something that is otherwise good can [perhaps easily] become an idol if it is allowed to leave its proper place.

Let us always seek the Lord in guiding us in regards to whatever we may be letting into our lives or seeking after; let us always walk in the Spirit in whatever we do so we do not let the lusts of the flesh pervert it (Galatians 5:16).

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