Feral Swine of the Heart
Feral swine are becoming more of a fearsome problem every day in the United States, with recent population estimates running as high as six million feral swine nationally, creating “1.5 billion in annual damages for property owners.” The state of Oklahoma alone is estimated to be the home of between 430,000 and 1.6 million of these wild pigs, prompting a reported increase in feral swine elimination in that state, from just a meager 2,426 in 2011, to 32,237 in 2017. 1 (A couple of brothers in Christ I know, working together in a nearby locale, have, themselves, trapped and shot over one hundred such feral swine near and around their own homes.)
The dangers posed by these ferociously fearless, aggressively antagonistic, and oft-times disease-carrying wild swine should be obvious to all. With flint-like foreheads, bone-crushing jaw strength, tusks that can tear flesh, and basically no fear or capability to be intimidated by anyone or anything that moves, they are certainly a force to be respected and reckoned with. Especially when trapped, cornered, or caring for their young.
Having said all of that, can you possibly envision anyone being foolhardy enough to let one of those large, wild, voracious and deadly, wounded and dangerous wild hogs loose inside of their own house? Perhaps with their own children present? Can you even begin to imagine the danger that would pose, or the carnage that could cause? And yet, might I humbly suggest to you, that an even more powerful and deadly trio of pig-like predators has unfortunately been unleashed far more than once inside of the Lord’s house? And yes, even while His precious children are present and preoccupied with study, work, and worship. Tragically, the damage that has been done when that has been allowed to happen has been absolutely devastating.
What are these wild hogs to which I refer? What are these wild, pig-like, spiritual predators of which I speak? They are the three lethal pigs of: Envy (Proverbs 14:30; Mark 15:10), Pride (Proverbs 8:13, 11:2, 13:10, 14:3, 16:18, 21:24, 29:23), and Jealousy (Proverbs 27:4). And they are all three mighty deadly.
They fear none and destroy all (Acts 13:44-45; 2 Peter 2:1-22). They dig in and don’t let go. They dig up and destroy every relationship they can sink their deadly tusks and teeth into. They quickly and easily rip up, tear apart, and crush and devour even the finest and strongest of relational bonds that come within reach of their terrible twin tusks. And yet, they are still all too often allowed to run hog wild and roughshod throughout the house of the Lord (1 Corinthians 3:3).
Just as physical “wild hogs can carry or transmit more than 30 diseases,” 2 in addition to all of the deadly relational and congregational destruction and devastation the three lethal pigs of envy, pride, and jealousy can, themselves, ultimately inflict, these spiritual hogs also carry a multitude of deadly parasites and diseases with them everywhere they go; thus infecting, infesting, and fatally infiltrating every soul they come in contact with (James 3:14, 16). This, which of course can easily, and will ultimately, lead to the certain spiritual death of any one they thus contaminate (Galatians 5:19-21).
A list of the diseases they carry with them and infect everyone they come in contact with could/would include any/all of the following: “…All unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; [causing those once infected to now become]: whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, [and] unmerciful (Romans 1:29-31).
This is why we must “Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word…” (1 Peter 2:1-2). It is additionally why we must “walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts” (Romans 13:13-14). Please do not miss the fact, that in this passage we see that the strife caused by such envy in the lives of those this “pig” has bitten and infected, is considered by God to be just as deadly, sinful, and on the same insidious level, as the lewdness caused by lust, and the drunkenness caused by revelry (or partying). There is no difference to Him. Therefore there should not be to us.
We must never allow the three lethal pigs of envy, pride, and jealousy to enter into and live within either our own hearts, or the house of the Lord wherein God’s children are hard at work and worship. This is the same message and warning which the aged Apostle Paul sought to make sure that both of his young understudies, Timothy and Titus, were acutely aware of, and that they consistently warned and reminded those around them of as well (1 Timothy 6:3-10; Titus 3:1-3).
Feral hogs are wild, aggressive, dangerous, and can even cause mass loss of life to pets, animals, and human beings in several different ways. For these reasons, there is an aggressive, all-out, and ongoing attempt to hunt them down and eliminate as many of them as is humanly possible.
That having been said however, we must admit that the three lethal and self-serving spiritual pigs of envy, pride, and jealousy, can be far more deadly to God’s children than even the afore-mentioned physical pigs can be to earthly life forms! This, by destroying the life-giving relation-ships God’s children enjoy with one another, as well as ultimately destroying each individuals relationship with God Himself (and therefore costing them their very eternal lives in the end)!
We must therefore determine, to put forth an even greater and more aggressive, ongoing and ever-increasing effort, to ensure that we are always on the lookout for and aware of, and then constantly seeking to instantly eliminate, any and/or all of these “three lethal pigs,” whenever there is ever even any hint or particle of evidence of their existence within our own hearts, homes, or the houses of God wherein our spiritual siblings gather for worship, study, work and prayer.
For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another! I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh… Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God (Gal. 5:13-21).