Recently I was watching a documentary (which I love to do—much to my family’s dismay) about the country of Turkey and its varied wildlife. The documentary discussed the amazing lives of some incredible animals, but what I found to be the most interesting were two dung beetles fighting to the death . . . over poo!
One beetle, greedily clinging to its trashy treasure, would take its thin, spindly beetle-leg (I’m sure there’s a scientific-y name for it) and bop the other one on the head. The first beetle would try to muscle past the other, only to be sidelined by the quick ninja move of the offended. On and on it went—but the fact was that they were still fighting over poo!
As I watched this life-and-death struggle, I couldn’t help but think about it as a powerful—and stinky—metaphor for our shared human experience. So many times in our lives we can get so caught up living for and grasping for all the wrong stuff (poo!) that we forget what’s truly important.
As a father, I have witnessed my share of “poo-fighting” moments unfold right before my very eyes. Now before you go calling the authorities on me, I didn’t allow my children to fight over actual … well, you know. But I have watched them mercilessly fight and fuss over a toy that was purchased at the dollar store! No sooner would one child “win” the toy than it would—you guessed it—break (remember, it only cost a dollar).
While the apostle Paul was in prison, he had lots of time to ponder his own accomplishments: “Circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless” (Philippians 3:5, 6, NIV).
Despite his impressive resume, Paul ultimately realized that all he had done in his life amounted to nothing more than a dung beetle’s treasure! After rightly recognizing the sheer uselessness of his own endeavors, he brought the reader back to what was truly important:
But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead (verses 7-11, NIV).
Jesus said it more clearly: “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?” (Mark 8:36, 37, NIV).
This brings up the question: how can you be sure that what you’re living for . . . isn’t poo? The simple (but painful) answer is to:
- Ask God. Spend time in prayer and ask Him this tough question. I know He’ll answer you.
- Ask others. Find family, friends, and trusted mentors who love you, know you, and will tell you the truth.
When you get the answers, make the changes you need to make. Trust me when I tell you that you don’t want to be like those people who thought they knew Jesus only to have Him rain on their parade (see Matthew 7:21-23).
Today, and every day, make sure you truly know Jesus—not just know about Him.
Stop fighting over the poo in your life and get to know the one who made the dung beetles, the universe, and you.