Judge not. – Matthew 7:1 (NIV)
How it got in was a mystery, but the thin, green snake somehow got tangled in the living room curtain. Poor thing was dead when we found it, hanging from the bottom of the panel, its limp body half decayed.
I say “poor thing” although I don’t like snakes, even harmless ones, which this one was. Probably a garter snake. But the thoughts of it dying a slow, agonizing death bothered me.
This was my second encounter this summer with a snake that got too close for comfort. In June I opened the basement door to shake out a rug, and there to my right, curled up on the concrete patio against the block wall was what I thought was a copperhead. Yanking the door shut, I grabbed my iPhone, slid down the door screen, and snapped a couple of blurry pictures while the snake coiled its head up. I was sure it was getting ready to spit its venom at me. Facebook friends identified it, though, as an Eastern milk snake—harmless.
Actually, snakes aren’t all bad. They’ve gotten a bad rap ever since the Garden of Eden fiasco. (If you don’t know what I mean, read Genesis 3.)
Not all snakes are poisonous, for instance. We see a snake and immediately think fangs and venom shooting through your veins and a quick, painful death.
Snakes are really shy creatures. They’re as scared of you as you are of them, more passive than aggressive. I know we have lots of snakes around here—after all, we live in the country. That’s to be expected. But over the years I haven’t seen that many. They would rather remain hidden.
They won’t bite unless they feel threatened or provoked. You have to be careful where you step when you’re walking in the woods or through a field. You could inadvertently threaten one without knowing. But a snake won’t come at you like an angry mama bear.
Snakes are a good source of natural pest control. They eat insects and rodents. Think about those pests that munch on your garden plants, or the mouse droppings in your silverware drawer.
We’re too quick to label something or someone as “bad” based on hearsay or on our own, sometimes unfounded, fears or on incomplete knowledge. We don’t dig and get the facts. We don’t get to know the real person behind the talk.
The Son of God associated with tax collectors, whom the Jews of that day considered to be scoundrels not to be included in your circle of friends, the scum of society. But Jesus called one tax collector to follow Him (Levi, also known as Matthew; Matthew 9:9–13) and had dinner in another’s home (Zacchaeus; Luke 19:1–10), much to the consternation of the religious leaders and the confusion of those who followed Him. He was setting an example.
I like the way the Amplified Version phrases Matthew 7:1: “Do not judge and criticize and condemn others.”
Remember, even snakes have a good side.
Give me the eyes to see others as You do, Lord, and not to judge based on hearsay. Amen.
Extra Tea: Read and meditate on Matthew 7:1–5
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