Sin and the Ingrown Toe Nail

Ingrown toe nails are nasty, painful problems to have. Actually, I happen to suffer from them. For me at least, they’re genetic: my dad and grandmother both have them. Every time I hit my ingrown tail nail – even if it’s gently! – on a surface, it hurts like the dickens.

And that is why, once a month, I have to go to the nail salon and allow the lady to remove it. And man does it hurt. You would think, after all, if I go monthly that it would not cause me any discomfort to have it removed, right? After all, it is a much better alternative than not going at all.

But that’s the funny thing about sin and ingrown toe nails. It’s not a one time deal. I can’t go to God and be like, “Alright Lord! Rid me of sin once and for all! I want it all gone! Every little bit!” or say to the salon woman, “Ok, what’ve you got for a one-time-fix-all?” It doesn’t work like that. Similarly to how ingrown toe nails do not disappear forever once the ingrown is removed, so does our sin not vaporize when the Lord extends his forgiveness to us and wipes the slate clean.

I remember, one time, when not all of my ingrown had been removed. Very soon after it began to hurt – when usually I can at least go a bit longer after having it taken out. We may desire for God to only cleanse us of one tiny portion of our sin, but that is not how He works. C.S. Lewis states it brilliantly in Mere Christianity when he says,

“Let me explain. When I was a child I often had a toothache, and I knew that if I went to my mother she would give me something which would deaden the pain for that night and let me get to sleep. But I did not go to my mother – at least, not til the pain became very bad. And the reason I did not go was this. I did not doubt she would give me the aspirin; but I knew she would also do something else. I knew she would take me to the dentist next morning. I could not get what I wanted out of her without getting something more, which I did not want. I wanted immediate relief from pain: but I could not get it without having my teeth set permanently right. And I knew those dentists: I knew they started fiddling about with all sorts of other teeth which had not yet begun to ache,” and “Our Lord is like the dentists…Dozens of people go to Him to be cured of some one particular sin which they are ashamed of…or which is obviously spoiling daily life. Well, He will cure it all right: but He will not stop there. That may be all you asked; but if once you call Him in, He will give you the full treatment.”

If we even allow a little leeway for any specific sin to sneak back into our life, it will cause us some sort of painful consequence – even if we think, “Why, I’m only doing it once a week! How bad could that possibly be?” Quite dangerous indeed. For once a week can often turn to twice a week and that in essence can increase until you and I find ourselves doing it every day! The entire sin (and ingrown!) must be removed. Not only a portion.

Additionally, just as we must continually return to the throne of grace and humbly ask for forgiveness and aid in refusing sinful temptation, so must I go monthly and have my ingrown removed. Many times, both of these instances are horribly painful and reek of discomfort. But, the great relief that comes when that sinful corner or ingrown pressure is eliminated gives a much needed motivation to continue returning. The periodical short term (or sometimes long term) pain of having it taken out in return for the wonderful sensation of relief – even if it is a bit sore, it definitely is worth all the trouble.

~ Southern Dreamer


  1. Thank you so much for this reminder. I really needed it right now. Great analogy, too—though I’m so sorry you have to suffer this, it’s wonderful to see what God’s taught you through it.

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