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Dying with Dinner in Its Mouth

The winter hadn’t been kind to the local fish, and that spring a number of their carcasses came ashore for the world to see. Many fish had suffocated when thick ice prevented the air from replenishing the oxygen supply in the water. Two fish, however, had died for a different reason. The mouth of the larger fish was wedged wide open by the body of the smaller one. To use the vernacular, the big guy had bitten off more than he could chew. Unable to swallow his prey, he’d found himself with dinner stuck in his mouth and throat. He couldn’t eat. He lost some of his ability to defend himself. Even the flow of water through his gills may have been impaired. The attacker had died with his victim. Now they both lay on the shore, cold, dead, and decaying. A sort of animal self-interest drives everything in a fish’s world. Bigger creatures eat smaller creatures, and every year a few fish pay for their appetites by choking on weaker brothers. There are no laws and no morals, only the bite and devour principle of the lake.

We humans like to think we’re above and beyond mere fish. Yet, God had to give us reminders like this: “For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another. This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (Galatians 5:14-16) How often do we lash out at others, concerned only with our own feelings? How often do we criticize our friends, or even ridicule those who embarrass us? How often do those of us who are Christians totally denounce other believers over small doctrinal differences? The “bite and devour” thing is all too familiar on the human scene. So are its victims. Unlike fish, humans learn to practice self-restraint, yet there is an even better way. God offers us the opportunity to rise above self-interest, to move beyond controlled mutual destruction, and to live lives so controlled by the Holy Spirit that we reflect His image by loving each other. How is it with you? Have you let God lead you to loving others and wishing them the best, or are you still trying to “bite and devour” without getting choked?

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