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      Nurturing people in the image of God since 1868.                                                                          POB 397/520 Dry Creek Rd./Smithville, TN



Have you ever observed a barrel of crabs? Or even crawfish? Ben Carson writes, "Go down to the fish market and look into the crab barrel. They never have to put a lid on it because if one crab starts to crawl out, the others will grab onto him and pull him back down. That's what negative peer pressure does. " Carson is right. It's not just crabs that cut and keep each other down. Sadly, some people do, too. Like crabs bent on keeping each other from rising higher and crawling out of the barrel, people can sometimes pull and push and cut each other down, especially in the things they say to and about others. Job was trying to climb out of a barrel of intense suffering and understand why he was having it so bad in spite of his love for God. But his friends kept pulling and putting him down with their overly simplistic theology that said he was suffering because he was sinful. Their explanation for his problems was that things were bad because he was bad. Job 19:2 records Job's complaint after they have pulled him down repeatedly — "How long will you torment my soul, and break me in pieces with words?" The writer of Psalm 109:3 was feeling the downward pull of some crabby people in his life and so he wrote, "They have also surrounded me with words of hatred, and fought against me without a cause." The writer of Proverbs 12:18, presumably King Solomon, had either observed and/or experienced the crabby way some people use words — "There is one who speaks like the piercings of a sword, but the tongue of the wise promotes health." Some people either don't know or don't care that words they speak either hurt or heal, either tear down or build up, either inflict suffering or instill strength.

Booker T. Washington (1856-1915) observed, "There are two ways of exerting one's strength: one is pushing down, the other is pulling up." Washington's words remind us of the difference in a crab and a Christian. A crab pulls down. He may think that by pulling another crab down he will somehow have a better chance to climb up. He doesn't know any better, because he thinks with a crabby brain. But Christians are told to "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 2:5). Jesus is the supreme example of one who used His strength to pull others up by laying His life down on the cross. You can't carry the cross and be a crab at the same time. "Encourage one another and build each other up" the Bible still says in 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV). The difference in crabs and Christians is that Christians build each other up, crabs pull each other down. According to your words, are you a crab or a Christian?

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ