27th January 2024
"Little Life Lessons
The lizard and an encouragement to have confidence and boldness"
In a world where Christians are treated as little people - and often feel that way - I've been considering 'the wisdom of little things'.
In Proverbs 30:24-27 Agur, the writer, notes the ant, which speaks of the value of perspective, the hyrax, which shows the value of protection, and the locust, which illustrates the power of partnership.
Now in Proverbs 30:28 we consider the fourth animal:
'a lizard can be caught with the hand, yet it is found in kings' palaces' (NIV).
If you've ever been in southern Europe late some summer's evening, you will probably have seen geckos and marvelled at the way that, gifted with special feet and toes, they seem to be able to effortlessly run up walls and around ceilings in search of insects.
Unlike most lizards, which prefer to avoid humans, geckos are fond of houses and, given their appetite for mosquitoes, are welcome visitors.
It's not hard to imagine the scene that Agur refers to here.
Middle Eastern society was then, as it is now, hierarchical.
At the top of the social pyramid was the king; here possibly the great Solomon himself.
Such a king dwells, secure and isolated, at the very heart of a palace to which only the very privileged can have access.
(This pattern of royal seclusion runs through the book of Esther.)
So picture, then, one sultry night, the king and his trusted advisors seated in some shadowed chamber behind closed doors.
There, as they speak in confidence of private matters of state, a tiny gecko scuttles across the ceiling above them.
The irony here, of course, is that while the meeting may well have the highest security and be well guarded, the little gecko has found itself present amid the secret counsels of the king.
I feel that this is an encouragement to us as Christians, particularly in the West today.
Within living memory, there was a time where politicians would court the church for support, where the media considered us important and where we were consulted on legislation and social actions.
That world has vanished to such an extent that, for many important people, Christians and the church are considered obsolete and irrelevant.
In such a world it's easy to feel insignificant - to believe that, in truth, we are a little people - yet Agur's illustration reminds us that in reality it is otherwise.
We may seem so small that 'we can be caught with the hand' but the fact is that as believers we have a position in the palace of the King of kings.
'God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus'
Ephesians 2:6 NIV.
When we come to Christ in repentance and faith we are adopted into the family of God; we know God as our heavenly father and Christ as our elder brother.
Indeed, where the gecko is a presumptuous and uninvited intruder in the rooms of the earthly monarch, we have been given the right as family to be present with the eternal king.
This privilege changes how we view ourselves.
I think we can live easily with being considered little people in the eyes of the world if we remind ourselves that, beyond this world's scene, we have access to the throne room of heaven.
It is, however, a privilege that we should take advantage of and the Bible is full of encouragement to have confidence and boldness in prayer.
Here are just a few verses:
This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us - whatever we ask - we know that we have what we asked of him.
(1 John 5:14-15 NIV)
In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.
(Ephesians 3:12 NIV)
Let us then approach God's throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
(Hebrews 4:16 NIV)
We may be excluded from those boardrooms and bunkers where earthly decisions are made but, where it really matters, in the throne room of heaven, we have a presence.
The king of whom it is said that he is one 'greater than Solomon' (Matthew 12:42 NIV) is our elder brother.
That should raise our heads and lift our spirits!
Let me in closing this series on these four animals of Proverbs 30:24-28 remind us of the grand, overall lesson that Agur wants to teach.
It is that our insignificance in this world - our treatment as little people - is in fact more apparent than real.
If we live out those virtues highlighted by Agur's four animals, then we will know the wise perspective of the ant, the protection of the hyrax, the partnership of the locust and have the privilege of the gecko.
We Christians, and our churches, are far more than we are considered to be and, in fact, even more than we can imagine ourselves.
Be encouraged: we are not so little after all!
is an Evangelist, minister, speaker, broadcaster and writer.
He has been in ministry for four decades. He has spoken in towns, cities and universities in 69 countries.
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