“If there’s anything I hate in the world, it’s leeches!
Filthy little devils!”
Humphrey Bogart as Charlie Allnut in The African Queen
We can pick up leeches in a spiritual sense, too. One or more of these things can be riding along on us, sapping our spiritual energy for living victorious lives. It’s a good idea to do an occasional full-body scan for these free-loaders and, if we find any, to hit ’em with the Morton’s. Here are three of the most common leeches I have had to remove and re-remove from my own life.
1. The Leech of Unforgiveness
“I shall allow no man to belittle my soul by making me hate him.”
Booker T. Washington
This guy is particularly ugly. Holding onto unforgiveness can feel like it’s the right thing to do because of the gratification it gives to the flesh. We may feel a sense of power by withholding someone’s pardon. “He was a jerk to me – why should I forgive him?” we say. In fact, this kind of thinking only enslaves us, not the one who offended us. That leech is loving every minute of it, too. Rub a little salt on this pest by meditating on the parable of the debts found here in Matthew 18:21-35. We have been forgiven so much by Someone whom we had offended so badly. It’s not easy, but we have to forgive to get this leech off. Jesus taught very plainly that we are to be a forgiving people. We all know what the prayer says. “Forgive us our debts as we _____.” Fill in the blank and feel that bloodsucker fall to the ground.
2. The Leech of Cynicism
“The gift of fault-finding is a cheap gift indeed.”
These days it seems like everyone loves to be a cynic. Making a stinging comment about something or someone can give us a sense of superiority, but it’s not usually healthy. The quick pace of social-media doesn’t help, either, as online debates quickly devolve into personal attacks. I’m afraid these spectacles train many to believe that arguments are won by whoever has the best one line zinger, not by whoever offers the best ideas. I have been guilty of it too often. Indeed. While we scoff and ridicule, this leech is sinking his razor-sharp teeth into our backs and bloating himself on our disdain. The Bible teaches us to be winsome by using graceful speech that’s seasoned with salt. See Col. 4:5-6. Of course, the “Love Chapter” in I Cor. 13 also makes it hard for the Christian to justify derisive, mocking speech. If we practice being respectful – giving others the benefit of the doubt – and listening without taunts, then this leech will get a bad taste in his mouth and let go.
3. The Leech of Comparison
“The surest route to breeding jealousy is to compare.”
Dorothy Corkille Briggs
This leech is really stealthy. He crawls on and digs in when we become jealous of the blessings of others. I know from experience to check for him when I start to resent a good thing that happens to someone else – especially if that person has some obvious sin in their life. The fact of the matter is that God is not fair in the typical human sense of the term. In fact, if He were fair, I am pretty sure I would have been destroyed by lightening years ago and you’d be reading something else right now. The Bible teaches that God causes the rain to fall on the just and the unjust. As I heard a preacher say once, “God may want someone to have something that He does not want you to have.” And we simply have to be OK with that. Mom’s advice to “Count your blessings” ends up being a good de-leecher here. Try that along with an offering of praise to God for the blessings of others as a way of flicking this old slug into the fire.
I hope this will help us all with spiritual leech removal when we need it. And unfortunately, we all need it from time to time. God made many beautiful creatures, and I’m sure actual animal leeches are beautiful to someone, but the devilish leeches of unforgiveness, cynicism, and comparison would’t be beautiful to anyone. Not even Mark Siddall.
Ed Nicholson January, 2013