The Five Second Rule

by Tad Lindley

When we were growing up, there was a lot of peer pressure not to eat anything after it had fallen on the floor. Our parents had drilled into our heads that if food falls on the floor it is germy, and you shouldn’t eat it. Of course if I happened to be eating something really good, like a Cheeto™, and the floor wasn’t too gross, I would look this way and that, and if I didn’t think anybody was watching, I would quickly grab it and pop it into my mouth.

Nowadays I commonly see people pick food up off the floor and eat it, excusing their behavior with the words, “Five second rule!” The five second rule is the thought that as long as the Dorito™ hasn’t laid on the floor for more than five seconds (no matter that the same feet that walked in and out of the bathroom had also stepped beneath where the Dorito now lies) then germs haven’t had enough time to realize that something tastier than linoleum has fallen into their neighborhood, and therefore they haven’t all jumped onto the chip.

Unfortunately, especially with something greasy like a chip or worse yet, buttered bread, butter side down, there is no lag time: the bacteria and mold that might be on the floor are already on the food as soon as it hits.

The Five Second Rule of Sin

Truth be told, it is unlikely that anybody has ever died from eating a Pringle™ off of the floor, but many people have been destroyed by applying the five second rule to sin. Many of you readers have experienced this. We stopped by to visit somebody, and they offered us a drink.

Now, we know that the Bible is very explicit, the drunken cannot be saved (I Corinthians 6:9-10, Galatians 5:21), so we apply the Five Second Rule of Sin, telling ourselves, “I’ll just have one, and then I’ll get out of there”.

In fact after “having just one”, many of us have woken up in jail, or in strange houses, with strange people, or perhaps in our own home surrounded by broken windows and broken furniture. …be sure, your sin will find you out (Numbers 32:23).

Sin takes us farther than we ever planned to go

When King David got up from his after supper nap, he took a stroll on his rooftop (II Samuel 11). Looking out across Jerusalem, he saw a lady bathing near the palace. He might have done the right thing and looked away (he already had several wives), but instead, unbeknownst to her, he watched her. Then he sent his men to find out who she was. When they came back, he learned that she was Bathsheba, the wife of one of his friends, Uriah the Hittite.

David knew that Uriah was out of town on military deployment, so he came up with his own 45 minute rule. He thought that he could spend some time committing adultery with Bathsheba while his buddy was out of town, send her home for the night, and wash his hands of the whole thing. What he had lost sight of is the fact that there is no five second rule with sin; a little bit of sin often takes us much farther than we ever intended to go. Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned? (Proverbs 6:27)

David’s downfall

It might have passed unrecorded in the annals of history, but there is no five second rule with sin; we cannot dabble in it and get out unscathed. Perhaps King David had even forgotten about his tryst with Bathsheba. Then several weeks later he received a message from Bathsheba: she was pregnant, and her husband as you remember was on deployment. Add to that a death penalty for adultery if the affair became known, and now David’s isolated evening of sin was turning into a slippery slope. By the time it was all over, David would order the murder of his friend Uriah, and bring upon his own family a series of horrible tragedies.

5 second rule becomes life sentence

David learned the hard way that we cannot just put one foot into the world of sin and simply pull it back out without paying far more than we ever hoped for. As a result of David’s one night stand, he brought the following curse upon himself: the sword shall never depart from thine house (II Samuel 12:10).

It is never safe to pick up sin, even for five seconds. Our safety is in the Lord: whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from the fear of evil (Proverbs 1:33).

Tad Lindley is a minister at the Bethel United Pentecostal Church.

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