James 4:7-8 - Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
The other day I watched a video which showed the wisdom and compassion of elephants.
The film began with a two-thirds-size juvenile elephant stuck in a water ditch. That elephant knew how to get out of the ditch, but he just wasn't tall enough to make the plan work. Again and again, he'd get a knee up on the bank, and then he would end up sliding back. You could see him getting frustrated, tired, and probably a little bit angry.
The next scene showed two full-grown adult elephants joining the juvenile. For the longest time, they just stared at him and his predicament. It almost seemed as if they were saying, "Well, you really did it up right this time, didn't you?" The third and final scene had one of the adult elephants getting into the ditch. He pushed and the other elephant pulled, and soon the juvenile was freed.
Truly, you have to like elephants ... unless they're eating the food you need to feed your family.
Sadly, when that kind of interaction occurs ... and it occurs often ... the elephant often pays for the encounter with its life. It's a sad thing, but there just aren't any effective ways to deter an elephant who wants to munch on your garden.
At least that's the way it used to be.
Now a method which has proven effective in Africa is also being tried in Sri Lanka. The elephant deterrent? Honeybees. Yup, honeybees. Tests have shown that elephants will give a wide berth to honeybees --- or even a tape recording of honeybees.
Farmers who have been bothered in the past by elephants who had the munchies are being encouraged to line the perimeter of their property with honeybee hives. Those who have done so have reported surprisingly good results, and they have the benefit of honey as a new cash crop.
In short, everybody wins.
Now it occurs to me that the same sort of principle might work for humans. Sooner or later, all of us have had the devil, the world, and our flesh come around to bother us. Like those marauding elephants, it seems there's just no way to keep them out of the orderly gardens of our faith.
Well, maybe it's time to introduce some spiritual honeybees into our fight against temptation. James tells us if we resist the devil he will flee from us. So, the question is what can really drive away these unholy three? I think Luther identified our honeybees. Once he wrote, "The devil hates music because he cannot stand gaiety" and "Satan can smirk but he cannot laugh; he can sneer but he cannot sing."
Which means, next time you're being tempted, you might want to break into an enthusiastic rendering of "A Mighty Fortress" or another hymn of your choice. Now I know you probably don't think it will work and I can understand your skepticism, but if honeybees can work on elephants, I think these hymns of faith in the Christ might work on our spiritual marauders, too.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, I ask that You will send the Holy Spirit upon me and grant me the tools which will enable me to resist temptations and stand firm in the faith. In Jesus' Name I ask it. Amen.
The above devotion was inspired by a number of sources, including one written by John Johnson for Newser on January 27, 2018 Editors on January 21, 2018. Those who wish to reference that article may do so at the following link, which was fully functional at the time this devotion was written: click here.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries
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