Sweetgum Balls

By in Devotions

Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not! For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law. But Scripture has locked up everything under the control of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe.

Before the coming of this faith,we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed. So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian.

So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. Galatians 3:21-29


Sweetgum balls. Don’t let the name confuse you.

They are not the latest dessert craze. You can’t find them in the candy aisle in the grocery store. There is nothing sweet about them and they are far from a treat if you are a homeowner.

The spiky balls that fall from the sweetgum tree are why chainsaw sales remain constant.

As I write these words, my nose is stuffy with allergies, my back and knees are sore and every muscle in my body aches. What is the root cause of my pain?

You guessed it. Sweetgum balls.

This weekend I dusted off the lawnmower and tackled my front yard for the first time this spring. Not only did I kill a few weeds, but also I kicked up a great deal of pollen.

What’s worse is that every time the mower went over a sweetgum ball it instantly became a flying projectile. To people who drove by, it must’ve looked like a war zone in my front yard as these balls went flying by.

After the mowing was complete, I “attempted” to rake up every sweetgum ball in my yard. Attempted is the key word in the last sentence. It was a losing battle. I’d pick up a handful of these spiky balls, bask in my accomplishment and then scan the rest of the yard. They were everywhere.

An exhausting afternoon and numerous Tylenol later, there were still a few sweetgum balls out in the yard.

In the midst of my yard work, I realized sweetgum balls are a perfect example of sin and not because they cause one to get angry and fly off the handle. This is a given.

My feeble attempt of picking up every prickly ball is like my failed efforts to deal with sin. It’s a losing battle and an impossible task.

I’ll spend time correcting a bad behavior or heart issue, and once I think I’m “good,” than another sin rears its ugly head. I recommit even harder to get it “right” and end up facing failure yet again. This cycle repeats itself over and over again.

The old way leads to futility. The law reminds me of my shortcomings when I attempt to keep it all. The law exposes not only my deeds, but my heart as well.

No matter how much religious effort I exert I am incapable of conquering sin on my own. Obedience is always met with failure.

This shouldn’t leave you, or me, feeling defeated. The reality of our situation should cause a reaction of joy, thankfulness, and appreciation to rise within us.

While we were still sinners Christ died for us. He replaced the old with the new. Instead of death, He offers life. He remained faithful while we were faithless. He helped the helpless. God intervened and made things right.


  • How are our attempts at keeping the law an exercise in futility?


God, thank you for rescuing me. In the midst of my hopelessness, Your grace is my hope. May I trust that Your love is enough and that my forgiveness is covered. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.