The Spider and the Starfish
There are certain kinds of spiders that do not have stomachs. When it is time for them to eat, they inject their digestive juices into their still living victim, secreting digestive enzymes that break down the body of their prey. She sucks up the liquefied flesh-pulp and then secretes another load of stomach acid, repeating the back and forth, in and out, with the digesting flesh until her victim is an emptied shell or the spider is full.
How often do we let bitterness take root and become like these spiders. We let our bitterness so color the way we see someone that in our harsh and selfish way of dealing with them we bite and devour them. We digest them while they sit in front of us, and all the while, because of our bitterness, we tell them that they deserve it.
When a starfish is going to eat a clam it wraps itself around the clam and begins prying open the shells. Even though a clam has one of the strongest muscles in the sea, once the starfish is attached, it relentlessly pulls and pries until it sneaks open the hard shell guardian. And then the starfish shoots its stomach into the clams, where the tongue and soft tissues are all snug and supple.
The starfish then wraps up the tender innards of the clam in its stomach and begins digesting. It grasps and absorbs the clam’s interiors by digesting and swallowing it until it is dead.
How often are we the starfish, limbs of suckers wrapped and pulling in order to crack open and fill our family and friends and neighbors and coworkers with our digestive guile. And all in the name of what they have done to us.
But bitterness is a canker. Bitterness has tentacles that sprawl into everything. Bitterness has fangs full of poison, and when allowed to mature, it bites indiscriminately. That is why Paul tells us to get rid of all bitterness.
Have you been bitter? Bring it to the Lord right now. Lay it down. God is not bitter at you, so you will find grace and mercy. Have you been biting and devouring, digesting people alive. Lay down your God’s is gracious and merciful, glad to forgive.
The only way to become someone who gives grace and mercy is to live before God as someone in need of grace and mercy.