Last month our family was able to spend some time at an uncle’s cabin on the Oregon coast. It was a wonderful time full of good memories. One of the best memories was our adventure of crabbing. While most people set their traps in the bay from a boat or try their luck from a pier, I decided to throw our pot in at low tide where there was a drop off. This worked well but only when everything was right. First, we needed a negative tide to reach our vantage point; then we needed to wait for the tide to come in to help the crab find our trap. However, as the tide came in we quickly lost access to our spot. It was always in our last couple of throws that we were the most successful.
As with fishing, the key to a successful crabbing outing is having the right bait. You may have the perfect location but without the right bait, you are likely to come home empty handed. For crabbing, many choose to use fish parts as their bait. While this attracts the crab, it also attracts the harbor seals and becomes counterproductive.
When I purchased my license, I asked at the marina shop what bait they recommended. They told me that people would often use chicken parts but they found that frozen mink worked the best. The mink were repugnant to the seals yet attracted the crab – sounded like a win-win situation!
The next day we went out with our trap using the mink as bait and while we did not catch our limit, we certainly caught our fill for two meals. The secret was the right location and having the correct bait. As I considered our experience, I realized that this lesson could illustrate practical lessons in our walks with God. The crab were trapped by their attraction to the bait; similarly. Unless we desire the bait, we will not be tempted by it.
You can tell me that nothing satisfies like a Snickers bar but if I have a peanut allergy, it will not matter how much you try to tempt me to take a bite, I will remain unconvinced. However, should you offer me some fresh berry pie alamode, well then you got me. While we may be repulsed by the mink it is equally likely that the crab would likely turn up their noses at either the pie or the candy bar. It is our desire for the things that are not of God that trip us up.
Paul tells us, “For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” (2 Timothy 4:3) If we desire righteousness then we will look to God, but if our desires are for self, then we will turn to what scratches our itch.
We are not helpless victims to our desires – God promises us a way out if we will look to him. “The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.” (1 Corinthians 10:13) The way out is to remember his promises.
Rather than hungering for the bait, Jesus tells us, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” (Matthew 5:6) Just as the crab had a choice to enter my trap seeking after the bait, we too have a choice when temptation is put before us. We can either feed the desire or look to God; we can play with fire or pursue righteousness. We need to fix our eyes on Christ, the only source for hope and forgiveness.
The bait is not the problem; the problem is the desire for the bait. If we desire righteousness then, as Paul promises, “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there.” (Galatians 5:24) The promise is that when we belong to Christ the desires that once owned are put to death with Christ and no longer are our masters. Now we walk in righteousness – not our own but Christ’s. Where the crab hungers for the bait, may we hunger and thirst for righteousness.