I thought all mice were suckers for cheese. Ours weren’t. They turned their twittering little noses at my every attempt to lure them into the traps. American cheese, Swiss, Mozzarella . . . even Blue cheese failed to stop their nightly scraping at the sheetrock above our heads. I half-expected them to break through and fall to the carpet at any time. Goose bumps prickled across the back of my neck at the thought. I was ready to buy rodent poison and be done with it when I spied the peanut butter jar. “Hmmm,” I thought. “I wonder if mice like peanut butter.”
They did. Chunky worked fine, but the creamy kind spread more easily on the trigger. They were smart little critters, but I was smarter . . . at least, I like to think I am smarter.
When it comes to being a sucker for bait, sometimes I wonder just how much smarter I really am. I know Scripture’s caution about the traps Satan laces with nearly irresistible bait, hoping to hold men and women captive (2 Timothy 2:26). Some he tantalizes with drugs. He entices others with riches or power. Still others he lures with sexual lusts. I understand why his bait is different – cheese for some, peanut butter for others – but the result is always the same: SNAP!
So why do I sometimes find myself nibbling on tempting morsels when I know I should turn tail and run? I don’t particularly like the answer. But if I’m honest, the reason is plain old-fashioned rebellion. I want what I shouldn’t have.
And yet, God assures me, “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (I Cor 10:13).” He tells me I do not have to take Satan’s bait. Cheese or peanut butter, I can sniff my nose at it and turn away.
If I choose.
I am grateful that the analogy of mouse traps is not perfect. Mice caught in a trap die. People caught in the Devil’s snare have a Champion – the Lord Jesus Christ – who can deliver us to safety. Through baptism, repentance, and subsequent obedience, Christ shatters Satan’s chains and sets us free. As the Psalmist discovered, “There were those who dwelt in darkness and in the shadow of death; prisoners in misery and chains, because they had rebelled against the words of God . . . then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble; He saved them . . . and broke their bands apart.” (Psalm 107:10-14).
No one needs to stay a prisoner. No one is forced to wear Satan’s chains. No one has to live and die like mice. The is why Jesus said, “If the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed” (see John 8:36).
Scripture’s promises can be of great encouragement to us, especially when the aftertaste of cheese or peanut butter turns bitter on the tongue.