Proverbs in 365 Devotions
Do not plan evil against your neighbor, who dwells trustingly beside you. Do not contend with a man for no reason, when he has done you no harm.
The "Friendly" Unfriendly Snake
By Brad Chase
Owning a pet is nothing new. Mankind has owned animals for centuries. Dogs, cats, fish, horses, rabbits and such. But in recent years, this trend has changed quite a bit. Now you see people owning raccoons and wolfs. Pumas and lion. There have been reports of people keeping alligators in the bath tub and Purana's in private ponds. Within the last couple of weeks, I was told an interesting story.
There is a woman who chose to have a snake as a pet. A python and a rather large one at that. This woman opened her home up to a naturally feared creature and loved it as family. She got the snake as a baby and cared for it and nurtured it as it grew up. Their bond was so great that the snake was hardly ever in its terrarium. The two of them were normally lounging around the house together. She loved the snake and even allowed the carnivores python to sleep in her bed with her most nights. All night. One day, the woman had noticed a change in her beloved snakes behavior. He wasn’t eating anymore. She feared something was wrong and took him to the vet. As the vet asked questions and learned the habits and nature of the twos relationship, the vet developed an educated guess as to what was going on. The snake had begun starving itself to eat a larger meal. The chances are, he was planning on eating his unsuspecting mother figure who has done nothing but care for the poor snake. The woman was shocked and had never thought of that being a possibility.
Let’s take a minute and parallel the story and today’s passage to get a clear view of how these fit together.
Vs 29 says “Do not plan evil against your neighbor, who dwells trustingly beside you.”
The snake is planning on eating this woman and she has no clue. Sounds like the snake is not listening to our passage.
Vs. 30 says Do not contend with a man for no reason, when he has done you no harm.
The woman has not attacked the snake. She feeds it and loves it. She protects it and provides for it. There is no reason that the snake should want to harm his owner. But, the vet seems to think that’s what was going on.
And personally, so do I.
The woman’s bad choice in pet and relationship with her pet aside. The proverb and this story reminds me of a couple of passages.
When a lawyer ask Jesus what the greatest commandment was, he himself says “37 ..., "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment.
39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. - Matthew 22:37-39
You would not choose to do harm to yourself and therefore, you should not chose to do harm to anyone else.
Another thought is found in Matthew 7:12
"So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. - Matthew 7:12 most commonly called, the golden rule. Believers and non believers alike are taught this at a young age.
So, these are a couple examples on how we are to treat people. But what is awesome, is that we have Jesus, who lives these things out and demonstrates these things for us. Think about it. Jesus lives in heaven and saw the rebellion of his creation. We would have been non the wiser and he would have been perfectly just in destroying us or letting us destroy ourselves. But! (as we want to be treated ) Jesus loves us. And came to earth for us. He showed us how to serve one another in the ways that he cared for hundreds and thousands. We see his value for human life and friendship when John the Baptist and Lazarus die. We see his unbridled love for all mankind in the end when without cause (other than the will of God) he takes our place on the cross thus setting us free of our sin. See, If anyone had reason to contend with someone, it’s Jesus. Yet, he does not. He restrains his wrath and pours out love.
To sum this up. Don’t be like the snake. Don’t silently wait for the perfect time to strike your unsuspecting prey. Instead, look to Jesus as a roll model. Love people weather they deserve it or not and make it a habit to practice patience and forgiveness often.