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Sunday, July 03, 2005

Word For The Week

There are precious few people on the planet who actually like snakes. Snakes are universally reviled and with good reason - they're treacherous and they're often deadly. Snakes are hated in such a way that in our common vernacular one of the worse things that you can call someone is a snake. A snake is someone who has no character, someone who has no scruples, someone who has no problem with smiling in your face and patting you on the back for the sole purpose of finding out where to thrust the knife. Have you ever had to deal with a snake?

The Apostle Paul had been snake-bitten throughout his ministry in Asia Minor. Five times he received 39 lashes. Three times he was beaten with rods, once he was stoned, three times he was shipwrecked, he spent a night and a day in the open sea, and he was constantly on the move. He had been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from his own countrymen and in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and, above all, in danger from false brothers. Paul was well acquainted with snakes.

So Paul must have chuckled the last time that he was shipwrecked - on Malta - when a snake bit him as he was helping to gather firewood. Everyone thought that he was a dead man walking, but what did Paul do? Paul shook it off. Paul didn't sit around and cry about his fate. Paul didn't kvetch about his perpetual misfortune. Paul shook that snake off before the venom could get into his system. That is exactly how we have to face adversity:

Folks hating on you? Shake it off.

Spouse acting a fool? Shake it off.

Kids acting like Chucky? Shake it off.

Boss treating you like Toby? Shake it off.

Politicians lying to your face? Shake it off!

Player haters trying to take your place? Shake it off!

We cannot sit around and complain about what has happened to us - we have to shake that stuff off and move forward with what God has for us to do. If you look at the text, Paul didn't just shake the snake off of him - he shook it into the fire. You see, not only do we have to get past the problem, we have to solve the problem. Paul eliminated the source of his problem - he didn't just sit around and whine about it, he did something about it. There's an old saying that God helps those who help themselves, and there's some truth to that. We have to get past our helplessness and take care of our own responsibilities. We have to shake off adversity and squash whatever problems hinder us so that we can achieve all of our objectives. That is what Paul did on his way to Nero's chopping block, and that is what we have to do in our every-day living.

May the LORD bless you and keep you;
May the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you;
And may the LORD,
Who implores you to Shake It Off,
Turn His face toward you and give you peace.

Emancipated by Athanasius @ 11:00 AM

Read or Post a Comment

Going out on a limb here, but Demetrius and I actually think snakes are cool. At one point we wanted to get one as a pet, but the problem was that snakes eat rats, so that's where our allegiances already were. Yes, rats--another animal often appearing in the metaphors with which we malign. Not sure what this says about us. Deep-seated oppositional tendencies? Most likely.

So as not to be one of those people who, in response to a thoughtful diary, only responds to some tiny part of it and misses the freaking point, I will add that I really like this part:

"Paul didn't just shake the snake off of him - he shook it into the fire. You see, not only do we have to get past the problem, we have to solve the problem."

I was not familiar with the passage before reading your post, but I agree that is an important part to emphasize. When we shorthand these things, we often miss something important.

Posted by Blogger Renee in Ohio @ Saturday, July 02, 2005 11:15:00 PM #

(There's an old saying that God helps those who help themselves,) (and there's some truth to that.) This is just that, a saying. We should not let sayings such as this influence our lifes if they are not scripturely based. and this one isn't. God helps those who can't help themselves, which is all of us. We must give ourselves to his will, and he will take are if the rest.

Posted by Anonymous Bareian @ Sunday, July 03, 2005 10:51:00 AM #

I did say some truth - and indeed there is some truth to that saying. In fact, there is a Scriptural basis for that saying - straight from the lips of Jesus - read Matthew 25:14-30.

Posted by Blogger Athanasius @ Sunday, July 03, 2005 2:14:00 PM #

This parable is not speaking of selfish worldly gains but of our selflessness towards God's kingdome. The talents "given us" are to be used in the futhering of his kingdome.

1. In order to understand this parable, you need
to understand the symbolism. It is obvious in the
story that the master represents the Lord Jesus. The
servants obviously represent the saints. The truth of
the parable is this: The Lord has called every saint
to be a servant, and God has gifted every servant and
given every servant the ability to use that gift for
His glory. USE IT OR LOSE IT
Dr. James Merritt
Matthew 25:14-30

Posted by Anonymous Bareian @ Monday, July 04, 2005 12:13:00 PM #

Use it or lose it. That's exactly it. God helps those who use what He's already given them. He also helps the helpless, but the point that I was making was simply that we have to take care of our responsibilities.

Posted by Blogger Athanasius @ Monday, July 04, 2005 1:59:00 PM #
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