Sunday, July 22, 2007

The Crumbs on the Table*

A countryman one day said to his little puppies, "Come into the parlor and enjoy yourselves, and pick up the bread-crumbs on the table; your mistress has gone out to pay some visits." Then the little dogs said, "No, no, we will not go. If the mistress gets to know it, she will beat us." The countryman said, "She will know nothing about it. Do come; after all, she never gives you anything good." Then the little dogs again said, "Nay, nay, we must let it alone, we must not go." But the countryman let them have no peace until at last they went, and got on the table, and ate up the bread-crumbs with all their might. But at that very moment the mistress came, and seized the stick in great haste, and beat them and treated them very badly. And when they were outside the house, the little dogs said to the countryman, "Do, do, do, do, do you see what happened?" Then the countryman laughed and said, "Didn't, didn't, didn't you expect it?" So they just had to run away.

Now, the way I understand this fairy-tale in regards to the Christian faith is that the countryman is Satan, the deceiver and accuser. The pups are Christians who struggle against the flesh. The mistress is the Law that demands perfection. The devil comes to us and tries to get us to do what we know to be wrong. When we don't listen, he doesn't simply leave us alone, but tries to assure us that we won't get caught in our transgressions. When our mistress, the Law, sees what we have done, she beats us very badly. We may try to push our blame off on Satan, but he only mocks us.

What is missing in this story is Christ. Christians may well become dismayed when presented with the devil's schemes and temptations, and, when presented with the sterness of the Law, some are tempted to run away. But for us who know Christ, we know that in all things and in all circumstances we can turn to Him for mercy, we can turn to Him to silence the deceitful "countryman."

*Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm Fairy Tales, Ann Arbor Media Group, pgs. 129-30

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