Some time ago I visited our friendly butcher for my usual bone. Well, the bone was for Old Shep, not for ‘yours truly’. I laid it somewhere and forgot about it for a few days. Then I remembered, at least Shep reminded me. I removed the wrapper, and lo, and behold, the bone was a moving mass of maggots. Now maggots are rather repulsive creatures, that is, unless you are an Eskimo. If you are ever visiting in Eskimo land don’t be surprised to be presented with a dish of maggots, all fresh and alive. To refuse to ‘down’ such a delicacy would be to make yourself most unpopular with your host.
Now I have no wish to set off in hot pursuit of the culinary habits of Eskimos. However, it does remind me of a minister I once heard of. The minister lived on his own and consequently did his own cooking. One day he went on a shooting expedition and was successful in bagging a few hares. So it was hare soup for lunch. Now the minister was getting some repairs done to the manse and being a generous soul, as ministers usually are, he invited the workmen to share his hare soup. The soup was duly dished out, hairs and all. The good pastor left the room and the workmen to enjoy their meal. The men looked at the soup and then at each other. The decision was unanimous. The soup must be disposed with while ‘his reverence’ was out of the room. The window was raised and two bowls of soup speedily tipped out. The minister returned, looked at the empty dishes, and said, ‘Boys, I see you enjoy your soup, have another dishful’, and he hasted to pour out. This time he didn’t leave the room but sat and watched the workmen as they fought for survival. It’s wonderful what you can eat when you have to.
I remember well when I was a student in the Belfast Bible College something happened to spoil my appetite for the day. Now, I must bear testimony to the excellency of the catering during my residence in that seat of learning. Nine timed out of ten they got it right. I am thinking of one day when they got it wrong. They had no need to sound the gong for lunch on that occasion, the smell announced that all things were ready, but also, that all things were not well. A large heart was conveyed to the table. To me it smelt like an “evil heart of unbelief”. It was announced that it was expected that all the students should help themselves to a liberal portion. I suddenly became a convert to vegetarianism,
Now, we’ve wandered a bit from when we started. To get back to the bone and the maggots. The cause of the corruption of the bone can be traced back to the Book of Exodus. You will remember that one of the plagues sent upon Egypt was in the form of a swarm of flies. It is said that the land was corrupted by them. Poor old Shep’s bone was corrupted by a fly that had laid its eggs on the meat, the eggs hatched, and the maggots were the result.
There are Spiritual flies that will, if allowed to settle upon our life, bring corruption and ruin. Samson was the strong man of the Bible. However, he allowed the fly of Lust to settle upon him and his life was ruined. Then there is the fly of Pride. Hezekiah was a great king. However, one day he “showed off’ his possessions and received the Prophet’s condemnation. You remember the story Jesus told to the Pharisee who went to the Temple and said “God I thank thee that I am not as other men are”. There are three kinds of pride.
(1) Pride of face.
(2) Pride of place.
(3) Pride of grace.
Demas was a friend of the Apostle Paul. He worked alongside him in God’s Service. However, the fly of Worldliness landed upon him and Paul writing to Timothy said, “Demas hath forsaken me having loved this present world”. The fly of Worldliness separated him from the fellowship of God’s people and from usefulness in God’s Service.
I am sure you could add many flies to the ones I have mentioned. How can we make sure that these flies don’t corrupt our life? Give them no time to settle, swat them with God’s Word. You remember how Joseph reacted when an evil fly tempted him to commit a great sin—he fled. Paul writing to Timothy would give us a bit of advice in dealing with flies, He says, “Flee these things”.