|Volume 22 Number 3 March 2020||
How Deep Is the Mud?
There is a video of a man and woman walking outside after a rain, and they come upon some puddles. The man jumps in the puddle in front of him and makes a splash. The woman jumps into her puddle and winds up chest deep in a hole! Another picture shows two dogs who have been walking through mud. One little dog had mud up to his chest, and another much bigger dog had mud barely up his legs; the caption for the photo says, “How deep is the mud? Depends on who you ask.”
The video is more humorous than the photo, but both teach a very important lesson. While it might look like we all go through the same things, beneath the surface there may be more with which someone is dealing than with which you had to contend. On the other hand, even if someone is going through the exact same thing as you, you might be better equipped to handle it. Whatever the case, let us always be slow to judge and quick to offer aid and comfort when we can.
We have hung two hummingbird feeders in the back of our house. We love to watch the little birds as they flitter by and as they take the time to eat from the feeders. It is interesting to see them as they light on bush branches and tree limbs for a few seconds, looking warily around to make sure that all is safe. Usually when we open the back door and go out for some reason, they zoom away to some high perch. Most of the time, we can hear them fussing about us being out there. They really want to keep on eating, but as the old saying goes, “Discretion is the better part of valor” (or eating as the case may be). Today, however, I stepped out on the deck and saw two little hummingbirds were involved in a major tiff about who was going to eat and who wasn’t. They paid no attention to me at all and came close enough to me in their fight that I could have reached out and grabbed one, were I quick enough. I could not help but think of a few things as I watched them.
1. Hummingbirds are small and are in real danger if they do not watch carefully. Their cautious nature has been placed in them by God for a reason. It is also a fact that we as Christians live in constant danger when it comes to Satan and temptation. We must be watchful and vigilant, and many passages of Scripture emphasize that need. If we let our guard down, we can be overtaken and cast down.
2. These two fighting hummingbirds were so busy fighting each other that they totally ignored what was going on around them. They abandoned their watchfulness for danger to fight each other. I thought as I watched, “That is exactly what Satan wants us to do!” If he can get us to fight among ourselves, then he can move in for the “kill” to destroy the work that we are supposed to be doing. While we must stand against deadly error without compromise, to spend all of our time and efforts on fighting those errors can make us forget what we are here to accomplish. Satan will rejoice if we ignore error and just let it go, but he also rejoices when we become so engrossed in opposing error that we forget to evangelize the world and edify the church. In addition, petty infightings and personality conflicts can distract us so thoroughly that we totally ignore our true purpose. If Satan can get us to concentrate on “me and mine” instead of “us and ours,” then he has us where he wants us.
3. I don’t know which one of the hummingbirds was right (if either was), and I don’t know which bird “won,” but I do know that while they were fighting, neither one got any food. There are two hummingbird feeders out there. There are also several feeding stations on each one. If they had simply shared the feeders, both could have been full, nourished and happy. They were determined, though, to keep the other one from eating, and neither of them wound up eating. There is a time to stand firmly planted and fight the battle with those who would bring unscriptural innovations and doctrinal error into the church. However, I believe, more often the fighting that occurs in the church has nothing to do with doctrine or unscriptural practices. When brethren fight with one another in this manner, when they are unwilling to forgive one another, then they become like those little hummingbirds. They fight, often with neither side being truly “right,” and no one wins. Above all, they keep each other from being able to partake of the heavenly “food” of the Word of God, of fellowship and of brotherly love. When brethren fight these types of fights, the only real winner is Satan.
Let us determine to diligently and “earnestly contend for the once-delivered faith” (Jude 3), but let us also determine to love each other, to forgive each other and to encourage one another to live for Christ. Let us not become distracted by petty disagreements and personality conflicts to the point that Satan wins the battle. Let’s learn from the little hummingbirds to do better than they do!