Christian Living

Spiritual Life

The Killer Wimp

Our church is home to little lizards. They eat bugs, leave no mess, and scare no one. They’re my friends, and I name them all Leonard. Every one of them—Leonard.

One weekday afternoon I took my little dog to the church office with me. I left her in the hallway for less than a minute and came back to see the carnage of Leonard lying on the carpet. His neck was bitten wide open, body crushed, and tail bitten off. At least it was a quick death. 

My little Yorkshire terrier, barely ten pounds and always cute, paced back and forth, apparently proud of her warrior’s victory over the tiny reptile. Of course she killed the lizard. That’s what dogs do—for fun. My dog knows of precious few creatures smaller than she is, and by golly, she won’t miss her chance to take advantage of an opportunity. After all, the birds always get away. But not this lizard. Got him! Aren’t you proud, Master?

Um. No. My sweet little doggie—who is such a wimp that she runs away from squirrels—is a killer! Oh, the violence that lurks beneath her placid appearance. What to me is a cute little doggie is—or was—to that tiny lizard a ferocious and merciless monster.

Then I thought, Could I be like my dog? What still lurks beneath my surface? Maybe yours too. Most of us are careful to look good and behave well in public. And we might figure that we’re pretty good people.

But what comes out that others normally don’t see? That we might not even be fully aware of? 

Can your usual sweetness or kindness ever be overrun by a mean streak? Does your normally even temper ever mimic a volcano? Have you caught yourself doing or saying something that you knew you shouldn’t?

The world is full of people who on the outside look respectable or spiritual or whatever you like. But there’s so much we don’t see. What would we see if we could look inside each other the way God does?

Psalm 139:1-3 (NIV) says, “You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.” And when God reveals to us what he know about us, we might be shocked.

Most people will identify with Paul’s lament, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” Romans 7:15 (NIV). How frustrated we can sometimes be with what’s inside us—especially when we pray or do all the things we’re supposed to, and we still act like jerks.

If any of this makes sense to you, what might be lurking in your life? What would you do about it? This is where we need hunger for his Spirit who transforms us. And if you put your lurking monster streak in God’s hands, every day, how could he transform it?

Philippians 4:8-9 (NIV) shows us how: “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or receive or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”

Today is the day to think and do those things.

Copyright © 2016 Peter Lundell, used by permission.

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