Once upon a time, our young people’s group almost became the Sploanco Fellowship. When the committee met informally to discuss names for the group, Sploanco led the polls but we chickened out and settled on the plain and ordinary “Youth Fellowship”.
“Sploanco” could have been a winner:
a. We would probably have been the only group in town with such a name.
b. When we invited friends to such a fancy-named group, there was a good chance they’d accept to see if the people were as unusual as the uncommon name they had given themselves.
c. Best of all, it came straight out of the Bible.
That’s right, an acronym from the King James Version: SP from Spider; LO from Locusts; AN from Ants and CO from Conies. Put them together and voila… SPLOANCO!
Here’s the original source: Proverbs 30:24-28 (KJV)
There be four things which are little upon the earth, but they are exceeding wise:
The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer;
The conies are but a feeble folk, yet make they their houses in the rocks;
The locusts have no king, yet go they forth all of them by bands;
The spider taketh hold with her hands, and is in kings' palaces.
These four small but astute creatures share a pattern of wisdom. Bible scholar JC Ryle commended each for an excellent quality (in brackets):
1. Ants (“they think of time to come”);
Even in the summer, ants allegedly prepared the wintry days to come. How well do we “plan ahead”? People may recognise that death is inevitable, yet take care only of material aspects, overlooking the spiritual. As sure as the Past is over, the Future will come and Eternity with it.
2. Conies (“they make their houses in safe places”);
These defenceless, rabbit-like creatures create formidable shelters for themselves by making their homes in crags among the rocks. If we run to the Lord Jesus for refuge, then His precious Name becomes our strong tower and so our safety is secured (Prov 18:10). Stirred maybe, but unshaken.
3. Locusts (“they help each other”);
Despite lacking a visible leader, locusts migrate in disciplined swarms, devouring everything in their path. Experts from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization say they pose a threat to the livelihoods of 10% of the world’s population. Unity is their devastating strength.
4. Spiders (“they persevere”).
Even well-armed soldiers can be kept out of kings’ palaces but spiders infiltrate at will, spinning their webs and catching prey with tenacity. Similarly, we are exhorted to grasp the truth firmly: “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful” (Heb 10:23). Unto us, patience and persistence.
Four tiny creatures but one big lesson: God has hard-wired them for survival and success. We also need to be true to what He has called us to.
Phygelus, Hermogenes and Onesiphorus were fellow-workers with the apostle Paul (2 Tim 1:15-18), but the first two deserted him when he needed companionship most. Theologian Albert Barnes scathingly noted: "It is a sad thing when the only record made of a man – the only evidence which we have that he ever lived at all – is, that he turned away from a friend, or forsook the paths of true religion. And yet there are many men of whom the only thing to be remembered of them is, that they lived to do wrong.”
Onesiphorus lived up to his name (meaning “bringing advantage” or “profit bearer”). Paul testified “... he often refreshed me” and was not ashamed of Paul's prisoner status. A loyal friend indeed.
Fidelity. Stay faithful. As we were meant to be.
Dr Andrew Goh is the honorary editor of Impact magazine.
VOL. 46 NO. 5 of IMPACT Magazine
THE UNEXAMINED LIFE IS NOT WORTH LIVING... Taking a deeper look at four areas of life. By Roland Chia
WE DON'T ALWAYS GET CLOSURE by Jenni Huan
THE HONEST DIARY OF A WIMPY NICE GUY by Christopher Chin
EVER HEARD OF THE BE-NOT-ITUDES? The flipside of Jesus' teachings. By Peter Teagle
SET FOR LIFE? Taking a closer look at Sunday school.
~ The Impact Panel responds ~
MUST LEARNING ALWAYS BE THAT TOUCH?
~ Three interviewees share their experience ~