“A little leaven leavens a whole lump of dough.” (Galatians 5:9 NASB)
“Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough?” (1 Corinthians 5:6 NASB)
When a small bit of leaven (yeast) is added to dough it causes it to rise, which Paul uses in this passage to illustrate how the false doctrine of the Judaizers was introduced to the Galatian churches. Paul mentions it again in 1 Corinthians 5:6-7. Paul is specifically referencing legalism that has crept into the gospel at the church in Galatia and has distorted the gospel’s truth.
Before long the “yeast” grew and eventually took over the church. The spirit of legalism does not suddenly overpower a church but like leaven it is introduced secretly, it grows and before long poisons the whole assembly. Turning to the law for salvation hinders the progress of believers. Paul’s words were relevant then, and they are applicable to our lives today.
Leaven doesn’t always equal legalism, however. The leaven principle applies to every area of our lives. Think of all the ways little things can harm our lives. What is the impact of just a little immorality, saying just a few offensive words, telling just one “white lie,” or giving into just a few lustful thoughts? Do you spend a little time with the wrong people? Do you listen to the wrong message? Do you occasionally view something inappropriate on TV or videos?
Think about the choices you’re making. Don’t use your freedom for the wrong purposes. Be careful not to sow the wrong seeds or sow seeds into activities that can poison your life.
Father, may our heart always yearn to be in Your will, live the life You have designed for us and lean not on our own understanding. Fill our hearts and minds with the truth of Your word. Let it penetrate every part of our being. You and You alone are worthy. Thank You for the guidance of Your word. Let us never turn away from it. In Jesus’ name; amen.