Last week we had a flurry of snow in our area, just enough for children to have a snowball fight and to build snowmen. My grandchildren built a snow woman called Sheila and her baby, Melody (named after their baby sister.) To build a snowman, you need to roll several ‘balls’ – two for the body and one for the head and then sculpt them together. Apparently last week’s snow was ideal for this, rolling and compacting well.

Sin is rather like a snowball. It starts innocently enough, so we suppose, with a fleeting thought. If we dwell on that thought, however, it soon becomes more of an obsession than a thought: this is what happened to Saul, whose irritation at the song ‘Saul has slain his thousands but David his tens of thousands’ (1 Sam 18:7) soon blossomed into irrational paranoia and hatred and then led to murder. (1 Samuel 22:17) James describes it in this way: ‘each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.’ (James 1:14-15)

How do we avoid becoming like Saul, enmeshed in sin, going from bad to worse? We have to be ruthless with sin (Paul tells us, ‘do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13 Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness.’ Rom 6:12-13) and refuse to let it snowball, confessing our sins and receiving forgiveness. We have to test ourselves, Paul says, (2 Cor 13:5), and ask God to search us and know us so that we can be led in right paths (Ps 139:23-24).