"Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you..." - Genesis 3:18a
Thorns and thistles. Pleasant creatures, right?
A couple days ago, my dad and I were walking through a pasture when a thistle jumped out and hit me in the shin. I mean, it was stepped on, but the creature seemed to come with vengeance to hit any attacker that might potentially come in its path - even if it's an innocent little girl. (Ok, I guess I'm not that little.)
When we think of thistles, unpleasant pictures come to mind. Words like "crabby", "seekers of revenge", and "evil" could be synonyms to this mean creature. But in reality these prickly beasts can actually teach us some life lessons.
1. "Crabby"-ness hurts
I think we have all been tempted to blow our top, to let the people who are annoying us "have it." It is completely natural to our nature...
But if we are Christ's, He is giving us a new nature.
Ephesians 4:26-27 gives us this warning: "'Be angry, and do not sin': do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil."
Being "prickly" never produces good results - those around us are hurt and don't want to be around us, we don't enjoy it, and then feel discouraged. It becomes a downward spiral.
Instead of being crabby and giving in to our sin nature, we can look to Christ for help to fight the temptation.
2. Revenge hurts
That crabby thistle wanted one thing - revenge. (Ok, it probably wasn't thinking about it since it can't think, but its attitude was to get anyone back who might hurt it.) But you know the interesting thing? The girl who was poked wasn't the one who originally stepped on it.
Revenge is like that. It rarely affects the people who are "supposed to pay". Usually it hurts the innocent on the sidelines, the people who had nothing to do with it.
As believers, we're not called to revenge, to fight for ourselves. While there are times we want to stick up for ourselves (and I believe there are some legit times when we should), it can backfire... big time. Revenge is completely different from defense - it's trying to get back at someone for the sake of making them pay for it after the event has occurred.
Here's a hypothetical example: Susie notices that Johnny takes her pencil, so she hides Johnny's ruler. Johnny can't find his ruler, assumes Susie took it, and hides her lunch. Susie's upset because now she can't find her lunch, so the teacher spends the whole lunch hour helping her look for it, misses out on her lunch, and the day spirals down.
God doesn't call us to revenge. He instead promises to fight for us: "Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Therefore 'If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.' Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." This passage from Romans 12 reminds us that as believers we can make a difference - instead of anger and strife, we can work towards peace as much as is in our ability. We can be kind when others are mean. It isn't easy, but it speaks volumes!
3. Sin hurts
At this point the tendency would be to look at the passage from Genesis that talks about thorns and thistles and think, "Thanks a lot, Adam!" After all, he started all this, right? He may have started it, but unfortunately we play a part in it too. We all sin, we all do things wrong.
But that's not the end of the story! Christ came to earth to save us, to rescue us from the bad choice we made, to allow us to live with Him forever!
And you know what He wore on the cross?
A crown of thorns.
He bore the curse from our sin, He wore the thorns, the symbol of our sin and shame. What an amazing God we serve!
So the next time you're poked by a thorny, crabby, thistle remember the lessons it can teach us... and make sure to wear gloves. :D
See you next week!
Hi! My name is Hannah, and I enjoy playing piano, writing, hanging out with my family, and spending time with my Lord and Savior. Hope you are blessed!