A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.~Proverbs 25:11 NKJV
“So, this is supposed to be my bait?” I sniffed a plastic bowl of shrimp, wrinkled my nose, and coughed.
The jolly man behind the store counter chuckled as he crinkled his eyes and flashed tobacco-stained teeth. “Yup. The fish love ‘em. And I heered they’s really a-bitin’ today.” He winked. “Good luck.”
The screen door creaked behind me as I waved ‘so long’ and headed to find our boat. My fishing partner excelled at this sport, and I was counting on his expertise.
Did I mention that I had never been in a fishing boat—nor had fished before? Perhaps I could fake it. Better yet, maybe I’d have beginner’s luck and catch one. The thought cheered me.
“Halloo!” A hand waved to me in the distance. Next to the pier, Eddie stood in the middle of a wobbling rowboat, legs spread wide for balance. I hurried to catch his hand and hoist myself onto a wooden seat, warmed by the autumn sun. Off we went, paddling across a placid lake. The sun reflected off its surface like a thousand tiny mirrors.
An inviting spot beckoned us to try our luck. As he baited his hook, I tried to imitate the procedure with my shrimp in one hand and hook in the other.
“Here, let me help,” Eddie said. He graciously got me all set and cast my line into the water.
Fishing was a silent sport, so I held my pole, sat back, and quietly admired God’s beautiful landscape. Leaves changing from green into gold lined the banks, and birds soared in a sky dolloped with marshmallow clouds. Joy rose in my soul. Thank you, Lord, for your amazing creation.
I also prayed to catch just one fish.
The warm stillness, the water’s lapping, and the gentle rocking hypnotized me. But, as soon as the bobber bounced and the line tugged, I knew I had a catch. I shot my friend a frantic glance.
“Reel it in…slowly now. That’s the way. Good girl!” Instead of taking my pole, he talked me through it.
“Oh my!” I held my reel tight as the pole curved downward. “Ugh!”
My prize flew out of the water and landed in the bottom of the boat, flopping helplessly. The poor thing wriggled, squirmed, and tried with all its might to jerk free. The hook had sliced all the way through its mouth, like a catch on a string of pearls. Escape was impossible.
“Hey, he’s a beauty! Let’s take a picture of you beside your catch.” Eddie grabbed his iPhone, and I displayed a victorious smile. I reveled in my ability to trick a fish with a bait-covered hook.
But after I examined my trophy, my pride deflated. Weaker now, the fish’s eyes were wide with the kind of terror produced from impending death, as if he knew his coffin would be a hot frying pan.
How could I be the one responsible for the tragic fate of this innocent fish? I couldn’t remove the hook and I became queasy with the effort.
“Please let him go,” I pleaded.
Eddie sighed, loosened the metal hook, and tossed him back in the lake.
I swear that little guy would have won gold at the Summer Olympics. Did I imagine that he threw me a look of gratefulness before he zipped away? Hopefully he had learned his lesson for next time: Don’t bite the bait.
As I sat through the rest of the day (without trying to catch another fish), the Lord dropped a question in my spirit. Just as fishermen use bait to snare fish, can the enemy also snare men with deceptive bait?
A Scripture from Proverbs leaped out of my memory. “You are snared by the words of your mouth; You are taken by the words of your mouth. So do this, my son, and deliver yourself; For you have come into the hand of your friend: Go and humble yourself; Plead with your friend. Give no sleep to your eyes, Nor slumber to your eyelids. Deliver yourself like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, And like a bird from the hand of the fowler” (Proverbs 6:2-5 NASB).
(My recent experience tempted me to add, and like a fish from a baited hook.)
Just like fish, the enemy’s delicious-looking bait can deceive us to take a bite, only to find his sharp hook hidden inside. But God can take His forgiving hand of grace and free us from a frying pan of sin. Even though we may become accidentally hooked by a tempting lure and say something we shouldn’t—a lie, gossip, or angry words—isn’t is reassuring to know that God is our Deliverer?
As we swim through life’s ocean speaking a sea of words, God will help us avoid satan’s tempting bait. Let’s be “shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16 NASB).
Have you been snared by your words? Share how Jesus set you free.
Lord God, give me wisdom not to bite the enemy’s glittering bait, but let me use our words to bless, refresh, and boast in You. May I use my words to praise, worship, and glorify You Name.
In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Copyright © 2020: Don’t Bite the Bait: Karen Jurgens: All Rights Reserved