Sunday, July 15, 2007

The Benefit of Snakes, Spiders and Other Creepy Things

Have you ever wondered why God created snakes, spiders, scorpions and other creepy, poisonous creatures? I agree with Jonathan Edwards that God ordained things in creation to point to deeper realities - kind of like living illustrations. Obviously one can't take the metaphors too far, but Scripture seems to prove such a theory.

Take fountains, for instance. In addition to the practically beneficial purpose of a fountain providing refreshing water, a fountain also provides a context to understand the nature of God. In Jeremiah 2:13 God calls himself a "fountain of living waters." In Psalm 36:9 we discover that with God "is the fountain of life." We understand what God is saying about himself in these texts because we understand from living on planet earth what an actual fountain is. When I see a fountain, I immediately think of God's overflowing goodness toward creation. So the physical creation directs me to deeper or hidden realities.

So what might snakes, spiders, scorpions and other creepy, poisonous creatures point to? The Bible gives us some clues. "Deliver me, O Lord, from evil men; preserve me from violent men, who plan evil things in their heart and stir up wars continually. They make their tongue sharp as a serpent's, and under their lips is the venom of asps" (Ps. 140:1-3). "Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive. The venom of asps is under their lips. Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness" (Rom. 3:13-14). "The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray from birth, speaking lies. They have venom like the venom of a serpent" (Ps. 58:3-4). "But no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison" (James 3:8).

It's obvious from these verses that man's bite is as dangerous as any creature on earth. The poisonous nature of creepy creatures points to the poisonous nature of man's speech. The destructive power of small creatures provides a context for understanding how destructive our words can be. Since we probably speak more to our spouse than anyone else, we must pay careful attention to the words we use. More importantly, we must pay careful attention to the heart behind the words.

When I see a snake, or an ugly spider in a crawlspace, I immediately think about the things I've recently let slip from my mouth. Have I spoken to my wife in a harsh manner? Have I chosen words to manipulate her rather than serve her. Have I escalated a conflict by using inflammatory words? Have my words been destructive or constructive?

While I find something disagreeable with snakes, spiders, scorpions and other such creepy creatures, I find something very beneficial in them as well. They remind me of the venom I produce every day. They urge me back to the gospel of Jesus Christ where I find the One who spoke every word according to his Father's will on my behalf, died on the cross for every word I have used in a destructive manner, forever lives at his Father's right hand to plead my case, and provides the gracious power to de-fang my poisonous mouth.

Paul David Tripp wrote an excellent book on the heart behind speech entitled The War of Words. I would highly recommend everyone read it - over and over again.

1 comment:

Antonio Romano said...

It's as amazing as it is sad. When I look back on my life I feel the most remorse not over the things I've bad as some have been...but over the things I have said. Especially to my wife. Some of us don't have testimonies of deliverance from what we think were these "horrible" lives. However, we need look no further than our speaking record to know for sure that our hearts are as black, if not blacker, than Hitler's. So the Cross becomes the equalizer yet again. Might as well just run to it and give up, I guess.