Rat poison? Recently, Kirby Smart and Nick Saban who are the head coaches for the CFP Ranked Number 1 and Number 2 teams respectively used “rat poison” as a metaphor for the media hype surrounding their rankings and their weekly games. Their arguments are that the hype that says Georgia or Alabama are destined to meet in the SEC championship, or that they have no reason to be concerned about any upcoming opponent, or that they are guaranteed to win by a certain point spread, and so on are poisoning their players’ mindset.
As coaches, Saban and Smart say that they have to spend time reprograming the way their players think to combat the “rat poison” that media and fans feed them.
When I heard that term used that way I started thinking about how God might feel that way about a lot of things His people heard. God has had to deal with “rat poison” for a long time. Notice His warning in Jeremiah,
The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD: “Stand in the gate of the LORD’s house, and proclaim there this word, and say, Hear the word of the LORD, all you men of Judah who enter these gates to worship the LORD. Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Amend your ways and your deeds, and I will let you dwell in this place. Do not trust in these deceptive words: ‘This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD.’ (Jeremiah 7:1-4)
People, parading as prophets of God, were saying, “God will not allow Jerusalem to be destroyed, His temple, His house is here. God will protect that holy place and therefore protect us.” All the while, the people and their leaders continued to live in rebellious disobedience to God. “Behold, you trust in deceptive words to no avail. Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, make offerings to Baal, and go after other gods that you have not known, and then come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, ‘We are delivered!’—only to go on doing all these abominations?” (Jeremiah 7:8-10).
They were listening to poisonous words. They were ingesting rat poison that would destroy them.
As I kept reading and reflecting I realized that this was not just a Jerusalem problem. God’s people, the Church (the Church in her infancy) also had to hear warnings about rat poison. “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” (2 Timothy 4:3-4).
We still have the same threat.
Pay attention to what we hear today. There is rat poison in the messages of hate, prejudice, tolerance of sin, and more that the world broadcasts. There is also rat poison in the messages that sound spiritual. These false messages can poison our heart, mind, and soul. Heed the warning. Compare what religious leaders say to the pure message of God’s word. Paul told Timothy (and through Providential preservation of the message, he tells us), “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:14-17).
Don’t ingest rat poison. Avoid it! Stay away! Spit it out! Spend time in God’s word which provides all that we need for life and godliness.