Of Rats and Gerbils


Who knows what great societal mistake we will discover tomorrow? One thing is certain: While what we think we know may wither and fade, the word of our God stands forever (Isa. 40:8).

The Internet had its mind blown when a new study came out claiming that rats couldn’t have been responsible for the bubonic plague that devastated medieval Europe. Instead, the culprit was more likely wild, giant Asian gerbils.

Why do I mention this story? Because mankind has a way of being wrong. In fact, we find out we’re wrong all the time: The world is flat. Nope, it’s round. We’re the center of the universe. Actually, not even close. It’s impossible to run faster than a 4-minute mile. Oh snap, Roger Bannister just did that. You are who you are. Never mind, we just discovered neuroplasticity.

The problem is, we make decisions based on wrong conclusions all the time. We used to bleed sick individuals because we thought it would get the illness out. Wash your hands after visiting the morgue? What for? And need I say, “lead paint”? I shudder to think about what best practices of today will be the ignorance of tomorrow.

What’s worse is that many people not only base their daily habits on misinformation, but also their spiritual decisions: We couldn’t have been created by God; we evolved. Survival of the fittest? As long as I’m not as bad as some others, I’ll come out on top. If I just don’t think about the bad things in the world, or myself, maybe I can escape them. Forget it. I can’t change my life, so I might as well enjoy it.

In his message, “Living Wisely or Foolishly,” Dr. Stanley explains that worldly wisdom sees life from man’s perspective. He goes on to say that James 3:15 uses three adjectives to describe this type of wisdom:

Earthy. It’s limited to human reasoning and accomplishments. Although mankind has made tremendous advances in science, we still haven’t learned to get along with each other. What we need is a heavenly Source of wisdom to lead us.

Natural. Inside every person is an element that wants its own way. That’s why we struggle with temptation and sometimes resist obeying God. It’s that sensual part of us that bubbles up from our fallen nature.

Demonic. The root of worldly wisdom is found in Satan himself. Throughout history, he’s tried the same deception he used on Eve: You’re smart. You can handle it. You don’t need God.

So how can we make wise decisions when there’s so much worldly wisdom floating around? While we still might have to deal with the circumstantial effects of sin (like, say, a giant gerbil infestation), God does not leave us hopeless or helpless regarding how to make good choices.

God’s word provides timeless, effective wisdom for how we ought to live (2 Tim. 3:16). Nothing is new to Him (Ecc.1:10), and nothing is impossible with Him (Luke 1:37). And when we are in a right relationship with Him, and are listening, He may even lead us away from an unforeseen tragedy (Matt. 2:12), protect us despite it (Psalm 91), or at least remove it’s sting (1 Cor. 15:55).

What great societal mistake will we discover tomorrow? Who knows? But one thing is certain: While what we think we know may wither and fade, the word of our God stands forever (Isa. 40:8)

Written by Linda Canup

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