A father had a family of sons who were perpetually fighting among themselves. When he failed to resolve their disputes by his exhortations, he determined to give them a practical illustration of the evils of disunity. So one day told them to bring him a bundle of sticks. When they had done so, he placed a bundle into each of their hands, and ordered them to try and break it in pieces. They tried with all their strength, and were not able to do it. He then separated the bundle into individual sticks, one by one, and put them into his sons’ hands, upon which they broke them easily. So he addressed them in these words: “My sons, if you are of one mind, and unite to assist each other, you will be as this bundle when it’s together – uninjured by all the attempts of your enemies. But if you are divided among yourselves, you will be broken as easily as these sticks.”
Application: Who does not know the universal principle of strength in unity? Even the weakest strand ever created, when bound together as a rope, will serve as the best testament to this truth. It would be the best advice for all Christians everywhere to bind themselves together in gospel unity and Christ-centered theology so that we develop into one mind in Christ! (Phil 2:1-11) That way, when the world wishes to break us one by one, they would find it harder to break us because we are united in our love for one another (John 13:35; Eph 4:1-2 & 13-16).
A Charcoal Burner was working his trade in his home. One day he met a friend, a Fuller, and begged him to come and live with him, saying that they should be far better as neighbors so that their housekeeping expenses would be lessened. The Fuller replied, “This arrangement is impossible! Because as far as I am concerned, whatever I should whiten, you will immediately blacken again with your charcoal.”
Application: What impossibility is it for the wicked and the righteous to dwell together in unity? (2 Cor. 6:14) Though it may seem feasible for a season, most of the time will be spent in opposition because of contrary desires. For the Saint wishes to keep his manners, motives, and actions clean, while the wicked has not the slightest care concerning who or what they stain or even sense whether or not they must be clean themselves.
A Wolf, meeting with a Lamb astray from the fold, resolved not to lay violent hands on him, but instead found some strange reason to justify to the Lamb the his right to eat him. He thus addressed him: “Sir, um, last year you grossly insulted me.” “How?,” bleated the Lamb in a mournful tone of voice, “I was not born yet.” Then said the Wolf, “Well, um, you fed in my pasture.” “No, good sir,” replied the Lamb, “I have not yet tasted grass.” Again said the Wolf, “Very well then. You drink of my well.” “No,” exclaimed the Lamb, “I have yet to drink water, for my mother’s milk is both food and drink to me.” Upon this last statement, the Wolf seized him and ate him up, saying, “Well! I won’t remain supperless, even though you refuted every one of my allegations.”
Application 1: This is a perfect picture for those who wish to commit sin, yet try to find a reason to justify their sin. With every correction and rebuke from their conscience or God’s people, the wicked will bounce from one reason to the next, only to find themselves without excuse. Then, when the river of pretense runs dry, there is no other excuse for their sinful appetite other than they love and choose to do it, because it is their nature to do so.
Application 2: The False Teacher’s appetite to consume the sheepfold of God will never be tempered by correction. Regardless of how much folly you reveal in them, their nature will be to not spare the flock. This will be made plain the most by their ferocious behavior when they are challenged about their false doctrine.