Daily Thought for: 13th October

BEWARE OF DOGS

Philippians 3. 1-3

This verse was not written to warn people who distribute leaflets about the nasty side of ‘a man’s best friend’. However, it was written to warn Christians about people who behave with the ferocity and viciousness that dogs can show from time to time.

Paul had a lot of experience of people who were so zealous for their cause that they had long forgotten about any of the courtesies that should be commonly shown to people. In fact there was a time when he would have acted in exactly the same way as the people he is describing just now. A careful reading of chapters 7, 8 and 9 of the Acts of the Apostles would prove this point. Paul also describes his zeal in verse 6 of the chapter we are looking at. As we look around the world today we can see people who behave in the same way. We would be wise to remember that the New Testament enjoins us to be both honest with those who do not obey the truth, Titus 1. 13, and yet courteous, Col. 4. 6.

It would seem that Paul is playing with words here as it is said that the Jews would often refer to the Gentiles as dogs. Various inferences in scripture would support this, Ps. 22. 16; Matt. 15. 26. So Paul describes these religious zealots with the same term. Why? Because their behaviour merited it - they were cruel and vicious! Paul says: watch out for them, pay attention as you are in constant danger. They could not afford to turn their back as they could be attacked at any time. Paul spoke from experience, having been attacked and beaten many times. We also need to be alert and aware of similar dangers that confront us as believers.

The same people are described as evil workers and those who cause damage and mutilate people. Paul is playing with words again. These people belonged to the circumcision, the nation that was set apart to God. One of the signs of their separation was the circumcision of the males. However, they had become noted for their evil and destructive behaviour. In contrast the Christians truly are set apart to God which is seen in their worship and joy in Christ.

 

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