As I sat at my dining room table studying this morning, enjoying the solitude before the kids wake up and the hustle begins, I paused to watch my aquarium for a bit. It’s set up as a 55 gallon Cichlid tank, with 5 medium to large Cichlids and a monstrous plecostomus. Cichlids are pretty fish, known to be very colorful, and mine are no exception. My favorite are the two Jack Dempseys. They are black with shimmery gold, blue and green speckles on their sides. My wife’s favorite is the Blood Parrot cichlid, which is not blood red at all, but a vibrant orange. Well, this morning I noticed that the Blood Parrot had some scales hanging off him, like he had been bitten. This is the downside to having this kind of tank setup. Cichlids are also known to be aggressive and apparently someone has taken some bites out of Orange’s side (yes, his name is Orange according to my kids). These little nips won’t kill him, but there will be some healing involved, and while he’s healing he will be sore, separating from the other fish to avoid further aggression.
I couldn’t help but think of Galatians 5:15 – “But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.” How easy it is sometimes for us as Christians to bite and devour each other, to be so critical and aggressive with each other just because someone doesn’t seem to have the same standards or practices as we do. Don’t misunderstand, there is a time for teaching, young Christians need to be taught what the Scriptures say concerning living for God but there is also grace. There is patience. There is understanding and even longsuffering. All of these things have been shown to us by a merciful God, so why do we feel like we get to go around nipping at others. Our carnal minds may be quick at forming a snarky quip, but that doesn’t mean that we should actually say it. If you really want to help someone that you feel is living contrary to God’s Word but should know better then there is a Biblical method for handling it, found later in Galatians 6, v. 1 – 3. In fact, it’s a 3 – step program: