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When Your Bread Doesn’t Rise

March 18, 2022

What habits are working like "bad leaven" in your life?

When Your Bread Doesn’t Rise

By Sally Lombardo

“Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump…. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”
– 1 Corinthians 5:6–7a, 8

In Scripture, leaven always represents influence. Like yeast affects a whole batch of dough, spiritual leaven influences an entire group for good or evil. Yeast is so essential in making bread that without it, the dough doesn’t rise; it doesn’t create what it was made to create. When I make bread, it is such a disappointment when the yeast has gone bad. You can’t see any difference on the outside, and the grey particles look the same, yet the bad yeast slowly ruins the batch of dough while it is trying to rise. The spoiled dough just sits there in the window, hardening instead of rising to become light, fluffy, and ready to bake. Dough cannot become what it is supposed to with dead yeast.

How is this principle true in our lives? When we succumb to different types of influence, such as the need to boast about ourselves, we become ineffective for witness and ministry. We grow stale, and we don’t change the dough for good in ways we are called to do. The Corinthian church was a source of pain and sorrow for Paul. They had slid spiritually and morally so far from where they were when founded by Paul, Priscilla, and Aquila. Corinth was home to the famous Isthmian games, an athletic event that brought tourism and debauchery to the Peloponnesian city. This leaven of paganism had influenced Paul’s former church, and when Paul wrote to them, it had a reputation for factionalism and sliding into carnality and immaturity. As Paul cites in his letters, the church had fallen into boasting, forming cliques, and excluding certain members from fellowship with the larger body.

We can be tempted in the same way in our social networks and churches today. Following the patterns of the world creates an ungodly leaven that ruins the bread: pride, immorality, fighting, and prejudice. But we have a proven remedy. Jesus, the Passover lamb, paid for every sin on the cross. When we believe in Christ, we are given the gift of the Holy Spirit, who will convict us of sin. When we confess our sins, God is faithful to forgive us and remove the unholy leaven from our lives (1 John 1:9). When we practice these things, we are restored and ready for the leaven of God to help us rise again in Christ.


What habits are working like “bad leaven” in your life? Instead, what practices would help you feed your soul on Jesus, the Bread of Life? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

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