“But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.” (Gal. 5:15)
The Gingham Dog and the Calico Cat were the main characters in the poem “The Duel” by Eugene Fields. Mr. Fields may well have read Galatians 5:15 before he wrote his famous poem. To paraphrase the poem the two animals sat side by side on a table. The dog barked and the cat meowed and a fight ensued. Gingham and calico pieces filled the air. The two family members wallowed and tumbled and clawed and bit. When morning came neither animal could be found. Some said burglars, but the truth was, according to the Old Dutch clock, the two ate each other up.
Paul told the story first but they run the same way. When bits of Christians fill the air because of the wallowing and tumbling, biting and clawing going on nothing is gained. Instead of one consuming the other both are consumed. No one gains when Christians fail to act in love. The Christians don’t gain and the world doesn’t gain.
The Old Dutch Clock hated a family row. So should we. Our hands ought to go before our face as well. Not just in tears but also in prayer. In the poem, we are left to wonder was it because one was a dog and one was a cat that they couldn’t get along? Doesn’t seem like it. They were family we are told and sat next to each other. It wasn’t until the dog bow-wowed and the cat meowed that the fight started. I sense a meaning there.
Paul’s biting and devouring may very well be the result of saying the wrong thing. Angry words hurt and cause problems, but soft answers turn away wrath. Wondering what would have happened if the cat had purred instead of meowing. Might be there would still be a dog and cat on the table.
Task for Today: Don’t bite and don’t devour. May soft answers be the only kind of conversation you know when dealing with your brothers and sisters in Christ. Fangs and claws have no place in the church of our Lord. Become a peacemaker. Flee gossip and ugly talk. Speak only in love.