Most of you know that I have two dogs. Kellie, the smaller, possesses the deviousness of a dachshund, the visual acuity of a miniature pincher and the heart of a Rottweiler. Spirit, the larger, wasn't the smartest pup in the litter but she certainly is the sweetest. It must be the Labrador retriever in her. She's a committed scent dog since she is mostly an American foxhound. Today we went walking. As is our typical pattern Kellie's looking around for trouble, Spirit has her nose to the ground trailing who knows what. I am the holder of the leashes. Kellie spied another dog which usually means Spirit has come and bail her out. Like I said Kellie has the heart of a Rottweiler in a much teenier body. Spirit got so flustered she rammed into Kellie causing her to roll down the hill for a bit. She didn't mean to do so. She just got excited in her big lug kind of way. While these two were engaged in rough and tumble the other dog walked calmly away.
This is not an example of Galatians 5: 15: which says: "But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another." That could have occurred had Kellie or Spirit gotten closer to the other dog. Gratefully Kellie took a tumble down the hill and that innocently so. I've seen some real bad clashes in the dog world. In fact, last week a friend and I were walking our dogs in the park. Both of our dogs got rather viciously attacked by unknown dogs. It is a scary happening and hard to watch. Gratefully both of the other owners came and got their dogs--which were unleashed by the way (ahem). The biting and devouring is an ugly scene remembered for a long time.
It's the same way in the church. I've been involved in some pretty nasty church splits. It shouldn't be that way. But when the flesh or the enemy gets any ground it can be brutal. Many people get hurt and some for a long time. I've known bitterness between two parties to span decades and I think that may be part of what the verse means when it says "Take care that you are not consumed by one another." Unresolved bitterness only destroys the one who holds it in. One of the ladies at my BSF group said it thus: "Bitterness is when you take the poison and expect the other person to die." Let that be a good reminder for us all to take care not to bite, devour or be consumed by one another. Rather let us be consumed by God's "one another commands He expects to be a deep part of the local church.