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 "Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine"   2 Timothy 4:2

Are You A Duck Or A Dog?

By S.J. Black

Years ago, my parents and I used to go visit a friend that lived way out in the country from time to time.

We would go to "the ranch" during the summer to go fishing and then to go hunting in the winter. On occasion we would go up just for the heck of it and spend the day helping work the cattle.

Driving up to the house at the ranch was always an interesting experience. The friend who lived there always had numerous dogs living at his ranch at any one time. There were a couple of chows that were watchdogs to keep people from breaking into the house. In addition, there were always several Australian blue healers that were kept around because they were very good at working cattle.

All of the dogs typically spent the day under the house in the shade unless there was some reason for them to come out, such as someone driving up to the house. When you drove up to the house, all of the dogs would come out barking at you until they realized who you were. Then when you were trying to get out of the truck you would be surrounded by literally a pack of dogs more often than not.

However, our friend in addition to the dogs also had a "pet" duck that stayed under the house with the dogs most of the time. The dogs had gotten used to "Duck" as he was cleverly named and they did not bother him other than the occasional playful nip at his tail feathers.

It always seemed that Duck had an identity crisis and did not realize that he was a duck. He was always under the house with the dogs and I really think that Duck thought he was a dog. When someone drove up the dogs would run out towards the car barking and Duck would run out going "quack, quack, quack." I often wondered if he realized that the dogs had hair while he had feathers and that the dogs would run out going "woof, woof, woof" while he was "quack, quack, quacking?"

I was thinking about Duck the other day for some strange reason when my children and I saw a duck in the pond at the local park. To be honest, Duck had not crossed my mind in quite a few years and I am sure he has long since passed away.

To me, Duck is a great reflection of a lot of Christians today. You have to wonder are they a duck (Christian), a dog (in the world) or a duck that thinks and acts like they are a dog.

You have to wonder if some Christians have ever read verses such as Romans 12:2; "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will."

We have all heard it said a million times that "we are to be in the world but not of the world."

But what does this really mean? Should we walk around like snobs refusing to speak with anyone that does not go to a church that we consider to be of an acceptable denomination?

Not at all! If we don't live in the world then how would we reach the lost, earn a living, buy our groceries and so forth?

Jesus told us that we are to be the salt and light to the world and that we are to go forth and preach the Gospel to the entire world. It would be pretty hard to keep these commands if we never had any dealings with the world.

But while we should be in the world we should not be of the world. So what's the difference?

Going to work, earning a living and being civil with both saved and unsaved co-workers is not a problem. God can use these contacts to reach the lost of the world. This is being in the world.

However, going to work so that you can tell dirty jokes at the water cooler that morning and then going to Hooters restaurant to ogle over the scantly clad waitresses while gossiping, drinking a beer and chain smoking at lunch is being of the world. Of course I am intentionally overstating the facts in this example, but I hope that one would get the point I am trying to make with my sarcasm.

Is there a difference between the two examples here? I think so and I think it is a huge difference.

How many times have we all heard a skeptic say something like, "all those Christians are just a bunch of hypocrites?"

People today do not seem to understand the principal of Biblical separation from the world. Not being a snob to the unsaved but at the same time not being like the world and its ways just to 'fit in' or to be 'popular'.

Let's look at a more practical example, would you say it is a good idea to be 'best friends' with someone who lives their life like a heathen? Or worse, become a business partner with a lost person?

James 4:4 "You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God."

Let's say you become business partners with a lost person. How long do you think it will be before they are pressuring you to do something 'shady' that does not line up with Christian morals so that you can 'get ahead'?

I personally have seen many people who found themselves in just such a compromising position because of being 'yoked' to someone who is lost.

2 Corinthians 6:14 "Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?"

If you are really close friends with someone who is lost, do you not think that people who hang out together over time end up acting more alike each other? More often than not it is easy to give in to compromise than it is to do the right thing. Before long the odds are better than average that your friends will influence you to do things that a Christian should not be doing. This concept is critically important for Christians to understand, but especially so, for young people.

Numerous are the stories I have heard of youngsters who were going along and then ruining their lives by beginning to hang around with the 'wrong crowd'.

However, let's say for the sake of argument that a close friend or business associate does not lead you into doing what a Christian should not be doing. Just being associated with some people can be a terrible witness. If you are a business partner of someone who is known to be a 'cut-throat', heartless person does it not reflect poorly upon you and your witness? Will there not be an element of 'guilt by association' here whether you like it or not?

"All those Christians are just a bunch of hypocrites?"

This is not talking about working with a non-believer as fellow employees and sitting in the desk next to them. What I am referring to here is people knowing that this person is your partner in business or best friend in the world and assuming that birds of a feather flock together. Do you see that there is a big difference here?

When I started to get my life right with God one thing that was very hard to get through was the fact that I basically lost my two best friends.

These were guys that I had known since Junior high. In high school and later in college the three of us were like the three musketeers and we were always together.

However, upon coming to Christ, I did not want to spend my time any longer hanging out at bars, drinking beer, playing pool, etc.

My friends did not seem to understand the change in me and did not understand what I was trying to accomplish in living my life in a manner that honored Christ instead of being stuck in the same old rut for years to come. They would give me all sorts of grief about wanting to spend time at home with my wife and not out carousing and dishonoring my Lord and Savior.

This was really not a surprise in some respects however. God's word had always told me that the deal might go down that way; "Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you." 1 John 3:13

If you are a 'new believer' in Christ and find yourself in a predicament such as facing the loss of friends, needing to change jobs or whatever challenges come up to allow you to live your faith, take courage the Lord will give you strength. The Lord has a plan for you but it may be a real test of faith to find that plan, it was in my case.

The question you have to ask yourself is if your so called friends are trying to drag you down and will not support you in trying to change your life for the better are they really your friends? Also, you have to ask what is the priority in your life:" Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him." 1 John 2:15

I have met one person that when they began to sober up and start walking with the Lord, their spouse left them because of the change that had taken place in them because of getting saved. The spouse did not want to change or give up the 'partying'.

These sorts of things are what make me really wonder about certain people who would preach a 'gospel' of health and wealth. You know the "send me lots of money and the Lord will instantly start blessing your socks off" types.

It has been my experience that following the Lord can be pretty difficult some days. But He is always faithful to give the grace and strength to see you through the tough times. Looking back, it was hard to get to where I am but I am extremely happy to be here now instead of stuck in my rut that I stayed in for years.

Would I give up friends and other things all over again if given the chance? Yes, and in a New York minute.

"Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?" Matthew 16:24 - 26

Personally, I have become happy in the knowledge that I am a duck and not a dog, or worse a duck trying to look and act like a dog. This is not to say that I am perfect by any means, but at least I am doing my best to avoid willful and blatant sins. I am doing my best to take up my cross daily despite my frequent failures.

Praise the Lord if you do not fit into this world; it means you are going to heaven when you die.



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