Lions love zebras, but not in a way that zebras want to be loved. If a pride of lions “invites” a zebra to dinner, you can be sure that the guest will never leave. All it takes is one unguarded moment for an unsuspecting zebra to become fresh meat.
When on the hunt, a lion will prowl about in an effort to chase the victim toward other lions that are lying in wait. When the frightened prey moves in the wrong—or right, depending on one’s perspective—direction, a crouching lion will quickly pounce. It’s not a pretty sight, which is why the Bible uses this imagery more than once to communicate a powerful message.
Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.” Genesis 4:6-7 (NASB)
Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8 (NASB)
In both cases, evil is likened to an animal about to pounce and devour. As much as we would like to ignore the fact that evil forces are constantly on the prowl, it is the painful reality with which we live. We can never strike a truce with evil; its eye is always searching for an opportunity to pounce. Let down your guard when you’re tired or having a bad day—or on a good day for that matter!—and you soon will be squirming in the death-grip of darkness.
People Can Be Pouncers
People can become pouncers as well. Politicians carefully watch their opponents for any type of misstep to exploit. Let a candidate say the wrong word, associate with the wrong people, or vote for the wrong bill and a carefully designed attack ad will soon follow.
Actually, the entire world of media is full of pouncers. How many journalists make their money and inflate their egos by prowling about in search of ear-tickling stories for the general public to feed upon? The tragic accident in which race car driver Tony Stewart struck and killed young racer Kevin Ward, Jr. is an unfortunate example of a media-fueled feeding frenzy. Reporters who know nothing about racing have been quick to throw about speculation of all sorts, creating a wave of misinformation and making a terrible situation doubly tragic.
In New Testament times, many of the Pharisees were pouncers. It didn’t matter that Jesus healed a crippled person or fed those in need. Religious leaders crouched in waiting, meticulously watching His every move and dissecting every sentence—all in an attempt to bring down the Son of Man.
Jesus Never Pounced
Jesus, however, was a person of an entirely different sort. While never afraid to confront evil when necessary, this unique man from a seemingly different world never pounced. Though often surrounded by sinners—people defined by their wrong-doing—Jesus never sought an opportunity to devour. He never initiated—or even participated in—a feeding frenzy. Jesus added value to people and for that reason lost souls were drawn to His message of eternal salvation.
I fear that in our day conservative Christians (of which I am one) have followed the well-worn path of pouncing politicians, reporters, and Pharisees. Worse yet, far too often our attitudes and actions are more representative of the dark lord than of the Savior whom we profess to love.
There’s plenty of wrong in this world—of this we have no doubt. But if we want meaningful change, if we want to see the church flourish and grow, if we desire to see the wayward won to Christ, it won’t come by pouncing.
It’s Time for a Change
Next time you are tempted to jump all over a person for his or her error, lift a prayer to heaven and ask the One who is full of grace and truth how He would have you respond. Rather than attacking, is there a way in which you can add value to that person? This one simple change will make the truth we profess to love a lot more appealing.