Our elderly cat recently gave me another opportunity to contemplate life.
This time I was encamped on the sofa, snuggled under a blanket, enjoying a phone call from our oldest daughter. I heard it — the dreaded retching sound that always precedes the deposit of a yucky pile of half-digested food in a most-likely-to-be-stepped-in part of the house.
The retching concluded with an unpleasant liquidy sound, and the cat soon came into view, casually sauntering across the room. Ugh. (Poor little lady. She’s getting old.)
As I cleaned up her mess, I thought about the differences between cats and dogs (and I thanked God that one of the perks of having your children grow up when you turn your backs on them is that you no longer have to clean up their vomit).
What does a cat do when it vomits? It walks away with barely a glance over its furry shoulder, acting like it had absolutely nothing to do with whatever that mess is on the floor, and wondering why the servants haven’t cleaned it up yet.
Not so with dogs. Solomon, in all his wisdom, had the dog pegged when he included these words in his collection of wise sayings:
Like a dog that returns to his vomit is a fool who repeats his folly (Pr. 26:11).
The dog has no shame. He’s certainly not embarrassed. He’s actually quite interested in the whole process, taking time to examine what just came out of him. “What did I miss here?” he might be thinking. “It smells good. Maybe I should give it another try.”
Disgusting, huh? But not unlike us, the humans who gag at the dog’s barbarian habits, but have the gall to think we know better than God. We vomit up the consequences of our sinful thoughts and actions, and instead of turning from them and toward God, we turn around with a longing glance and shamelessly try them again!
Proverbs 26:11 gives us a wonderful opportunity to teach our children a valuable lesson.
What child doesn’t relish a little grossness? The boys love to revel in it; the girls love to recoil from it.
And what child doesn’t foolishly repeat his folly? Any parent knows the weariness of having to discipline their children over and over for the same offenses.
Take advantage of this proverb’s vivid and memorable image to help your children learn to turn from their foolishness and sin.
- Talk about Proverbs 26:11 together. What does it mean?
- Give examples of how a person might “repeat his folly”.
- Share some stories from your own life that illustrate the truth of this proverb.
- Brace yourself for the results, and have the children illustrate the proverb.
- Memorize the verse together.
- Then gently remind them of this proverb when they grab the toy from their sibling again, or when you’re standing in front of your If-Then Chart, reading the verses about hitting or arguing or disobeying for the tenth time in one day.
- Ask them if they’re being like the dog who goes back and eats the stuff he just threw up. That should get their attention.
- Pray with them, asking God to help them learn from Him and from His Word, and pray for His strength to turn from their sin and do what is right.
While you’re at it, watch out for the kids who act more like the cat — the indifferent ones who proudly say there’s no problem, or blame their sin on someone else. Bold and foolish dog-like “repeat offenders” certainly need correction, but so do the self-righteous cats.