So I’m a Christian. And a coffee guy. But Christianity defines me, not coffee. But I love coffee. I sell coffee for a living. God has blessed me with a wealth of useless information about coffee. One is about a disease that coffee gets known as roya.
The history of roya is not really known, although Sri Lanka was the first main area to experience significant roya impact. They had so bad of devastation from roya that they don’t even grow coffee there anymore, it wasn’t profitable. Every major growing region for coffee has experienced some sort of roya destruction .
Lately, roya has been impacting the central and South American regions for coffee. First seen in significant amount in 2008 in Colombia, the disease has slowly been moving north and, by this year, the country of Guatemala will experience about one fourth of their crop completely devastated by roya. The only way to fix it? Either completely dig up the farm, sanitize the soil, and replant or place copious amounts of chemicals on your coffee trees. If you are an organic farmer, this would disqualify you for organic certification. If you are a farmer that makes very little money and have been working all your life, sometimes over generations, to afford organic certification, then it can be very disheartening and frustrating, causing you to want to give up or give in. Sometimes, farmers are completely starting over with new species of plants. For example, the Bourbon species of coffee tree yields a very tasty cup of coffee but it is affected easily and significantly by roya. So when roya hits, farmers plant a species called Catamoor which is more resilient to roya but produces a very bitter cup of coffee.
So, Fred, what does this have to do with the soul?
Jeremiah 7:30-34 – “For the sons of Judah have done evil in my sight, declares the Lord. They have set their detestable things in the house that is called by my name, to defile it. And they have built the high places of Topheth, which is in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire, which I did not command, nor did it come into my mind. Therefore, behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when it will no more be called Topheth, or the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, but the Valley of Slaughter; for they will bury in Topheth, because there is no room elsewhere. And the dead bodies of this people will be food for the birds of the air, and for the beasts of the earth, and none will frighten them away. And I will silence in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, for the land shall become a waste.
Let’s look at what roya is and equate that with the human version of roya, sin disease. Sin causes us to doubt. It causes us to not trust. It leads us to points in our relationships where we simply cannot come back without completely cutting out the disease completely.
First, roya is a dirty rust that collects on the leaf of coffee. In our human souls, the effects of sin build up to a point that eventually causes us to show our sin on our outer bodies, in how we act.
Proverbs 16:28 – A dishonest man spreads strife, and a whisperer separates close friends.
Next, roya must come in contact with its favorite plant, coffee, in order to survive, multiply and grow. Sin does not exist in plants. Sin does not exist in dirt. Sin does not exist even in the buildings that we build. Sin exists in humans. Sin needs humanity in order to survive and multiply. Without a human element, sin cannot exist. When a person gives their life to Christ, they surrender their humanity to Christ. From that point forward, it is Christ that lives in us, not we that live. Christ cannot co-exist with sin, so something had to have been done to remove the Sin from our lives. That event was the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. At that moment, for those who accept His gift, He became the blood offering that cleans our souls. All it costs is our own lives. Not physically in most cases, but spiritually.
Galatians 2:19-21 – For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.”
Roya begins with small lesions and then grows into large collections of plant-eating spores which eventually cause the plant to die. The roya disease begins with 4-6 spore crops that leads to 400,000 spores over a 3 month period! Sin begins small. How many times have you heard, “but it is just a small, white lie” or “I was just flirting with that married woman, nothing more.” That is the beginning. A small flirtation with sin leads to a large commitment from sin. Many times we don’t even realize that we are sinning until the sin engulfs us and we find that we can no longer shine the light of Christ.
James 1:15 – Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
Roya is rarely found in the young fruit. It is the same with our children. Although we know sin exists in everyone from birth to the grave, our children emulate the behaviors of the parents. One of my biggest fears revolves around my kids going to public schools. I have heard the horror stories. My daughter has even told me a few things that have happened in her school that has made me cringe. Those other children who are bringing the drugs or alcohol to school or cheating on the exams are doing so not because they have chosen to lead a life of sin. They are doing so because they have seen that behavior in their parents. I’m not going to get into the whole “nature versus nurture” debate because with children, it is combination of both that causes bad behaviors. But it is important to know that our children will continue the “sins of the fathers.”
Exodus 34:7 – Keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.”
The roya disease impact is truly unknown. No one knows where the spores finally end up. It could be affecting other plants in various ways that we have yet to learn about. It spreads in the wind. Our sin disease also affects others in various ways. The sins that caused my marriage to dissolve will have lasting effects on the children that God has trusted to my care. It is only just now, years after the divorce, starting to come to light some of the effects that my marriage ending had on my children. We may not know the full gravity of the effects of sin until years later.
Romans 5:12 – When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned.
The infection of roya is impacted largely by water, temperature, and host resistance. How many times have you been troubled by something and simply said, “I could really use a shot of tequila” or “I really want to smoke a cigarette” or “I just need to get out and meet someone for a one night stand.” Our times of depression, when we should be crying to our Savior, cause our tears to lead to sin. Without a Savior, our sadness is simply a gateway to sin. Water is the main spread of the disease of roya, but water is also part of the solution to conquering it. A chemical solution must be administered to the coffee plant in order for roya to die. The main ingredient in this solution is water. Our tears, directed properly, will cause the roya of our soul to go away.
Temperature also affects roya significantly. It can’t be too hot or the disease will not spread. What happens when we are “on fire” for God? Our souls are too filled with the Holy Spirit to spend thinking about our circumstance and our sin. We are used by the Holy One in order to advance His kingdom, not spending our time drowning our sorrows or hooking up with someone to make the loneliness go away.
The final influence in roya sporulation is host resistance. If the coffee plant is resistant to roya, it will not be affected by it. Farms in Sri Lanka, for example, stopped growing Arabica coffee and started growing Liberica coffee. Liberica is naturally resistant to roya. If we stand up to sin (and sin’s ambassador, Satan) then we will find that roya, or sin, has no place in our lives.
1 Corinthians 15:57 –But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.
So what is the conclusion? Roya is devastating the coffee farms around the world. Guatemala has declared a state of emergency because of the significant loss of their coffee crop to roya. For the Christian, we can’t simply spray a few chemicals and expect our sin to go away. But there are similarities. If we direct our tears to Christ, turn up the heat on our spiritual life, and resist sin in all its forms in the name of Christ, then we will find that our sin disease, our roya, will disappear.