Feathers for Worms

When I was a young seminary student, I remember hearing a sermon titled Feathers for Worms. Honestly, I don’t really remember what the sermon was about except being about compromise in general, but it was a title that always stuck in my head. Later on I began to realize that it was actually a sermon title that’s been used more broadly. The story or the fable goes that there was once this robin who didn’t like to work for his daily rations. So every day he would begin to sell one of his feathers for a worm so he didn’t have to go out and work for it. Of course the moral of the story is that after a while he had no more feathers with which to buy worms and had no ability to go out and find them anymore because he had no ability to fly. Therefore he dies.

It’s a fun little story, but I think it’s got a point to it. It’s a point that I have always tried to remember ever since I heard the phrase “feathers for worms.” Don’t live your life exchanging feathers for worms. What I think that really means is to make appropriate moral choices that every sin, by its very nature, is exchanging something that is good in God’s eyes for something that we think is good in our own eyes, but is of less value. It’s feathers for worms, biblically speaking.

I see this idea coming out to us in Romans 1 when we have this description of the nature of our sinful nature. It says in verse 24, “they [human beings] exchange the truth about God for a lie.” We’re always exchanging what God wants to give us for what we want instead, and it’s always something lesser. Of course, abortion is always an exchange of something that God considers most valuable (human life) for something of less value (money, gold fame, reputation, college degree, etc.). Abortion is always a form of sacrifice in which you take what God says is most precious to him in all of creation and exchange it or sacrifice it for something of less value.

All sin has that DNA. If I commit adultery, I am exchanging a momentary pleasure for the beauty and the sacredness of a long-term, long lasting, healthy marriage which is more precious to God and more precious to me. The temptation for sexual immorality, the temptation for stealing, the temptation for lying is always an opportunity to exchange feathers for worms or to go down the easier path temporarily rather than to walk with integrity as the Bible calls us to.

Why am I thinking about that? I think we’re living in a time in which everything seems to be corrupted. People and institutions, including nonprofit ministries and churches, are constantly being tempted to exchange feathers for worms. I feel that pressure all the time. There are many, many ways that we can cut corners, that we can share half truths with people. It is a constant effort to be on your guard and to walk with integrity, whether it’s your personal life or your public ministry, as is the case here with Passion Life. We don’t exchange feathers for worms.

It’s a challenge that I take up all the time. It’s a challenge that I want you to hold me accountable to in terms of how we use our money, how we use our time, how we run our ministry. It’s about integrity and not compromising or doing things that have, maybe, short-term advantage, but lose the long-term battle for integrity and justice and righteousness.

You need to hold us accountable, and I want to hold you accountable, and I want to challenge you as a believer in Jesus Christ to not exchange feathers for worms. Let us walk with the

integrity of the gospel and fend off the temptations of the evil one, binding ourselves to being good stewards of all the resources that we have. To me, this is the great work of a ministry that avoids the temptation of exchanging feathers for worms. It’s a great way to remember the challenge. Don’t exchange feathers for worms. Thanks.