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Monday, July 12, 2021

Devouring Yourselves

By Joe Chesser
 
    Have you ever done something pretty dumb and thought to yourself that you are glad no one had a camera to record your stupidity?  Well, I remember some time ago Brenda Dufour, a good friend who lives in Louisiana, sent me several pictures of some very ridiculous things caught by a camera.  Things like a man hosing his car in a downpour, a purse and a bag of groceries on top of a car going down the street, a plastic coffee thermos melted on top of a gas burner, a truck headfirst in the water on a boat ramp with the boat hooked behind it still on shore, and a lineman working on top of a telephone pole with a tornado in plain view right behind him.
    But the one that most caught my attention was a picture of a snake coiled around swallowing his own tail!  There must have been 4-5 inches already down his throat!  Devouring yourself alive is about as dumb as it gets.  Yet, that’s what people all around us are doing to each other all the time.  And worse yet is when we do it to each other!
    Paul warned us about this in Galatians 5.  In the context of urging the church to live differently from the rest of the world, to live by the Spirit and not by the desires of the flesh, he said: “If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other” (Galatians 5:15).  The picture of the snake is clear evidence of just how foolish it is to try to destroy each other by destructive words and actions.  It’s certainly not the way of the Spirit!
    Paul reminded the Galatians that God expects Christians to practice the law of love towards each other. To “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Galatians 5:14) is the summation of the entire law in a single command.  This means to treat others as God would treat them, with kind words and deeds that build them up.  Anyone can curse and swear and criticize and complain.  Anyone can rip other people apart.  That comes naturally because we all are born with the sinful nature.  But for those who want to rise above that, for those who are born of the Spirit, practicing the law of love becomes their new nature.  Instead of living immorally and filled with hatred and selfish ambition, those born of the Spirit allow the Spirit to fill them with something far better – love, joy, peace, patience kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:19-24). There is no place in the fruit of the Spirit for words and actions that bite and devour each other.
    It may be natural for snakes to swallow themselves.  I really don’t know much about that.  But I do know it’s not natural for Christians to destroy each other.  I’ve seen far too much of that in my lifetime.  I’ve even participated in it, to my shame.  However, it’s time for us all to put that behind us and from now on to treat each other with love! 
- Joe Chesser preaches for the Fruitland Church of Christ, Fruitland, MO.  He may be contacted at joeandareva@yahoo.com


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