Food for Thought
Trapping Lobsters
by David Churchill

     Have you caught any lobsters lately in conversation or Bible class?  
     For Maine fishermen, lobsters are the most valuable items harvested from the sea.  According to a program I watched on the National Geographic Channel, lobster fishing provides over a billion dollars annually to Maine fisherman, shipbuilders, equipment and accessory providers, restaurants, and other associated businesses.
     The problem with fishing for lobsters is that they are not a surface-dweller.  They don’t swim on top of the water and they don’t usually crawl up on the beaches.  They live on the ocean bottom, much deeper than people can casually swim.  Trying to catch them by hook and line takes too much time for the few that are caught.  And most of the fisherman simply don’t have the experience or resources to use fancy diving equipment for catching these prizes.  So how do they do it?
     Lobster fishermen catch lobsters by trapping them.  They build sturdy solid traps big enough to hold grown lobsters, but with holes to let the baby lobsters and other undesired sea creatures escape.  Then the fishermen lower the traps where lobsters are known to live and tie on floating markers to identify where the traps lie below.  Once a day, the traps are hauled up, the contents sorted for what to keep and what to return to the water, and the traps returned to the depths for another day’s catch.  One person with a small boat and several traps can catch over 100 to 200 usable lobsters each day.

     As thinking people seeking the spiritual truths of God’s Word, Christians are a lot like these Maine fishermen seeking the ocean’s lobsters.  We sustain our spiritual livelihood by searching for items of value.  Harvesting these valuables requires planning, preparation, and persistent effort on our part.  And we must somehow habitually think deeper than the shallow thinking of the world around us.
     How can we think so deeply that we successfully lay our mental lobster traps to catch these spiritual truths?
     First, we must build those traps -- sturdy and strong, yet with selective criteria so we catch what’s important.  Paul writes in Philippians chapter four that by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, we are to make our requests known to God.  He then continues by saying, “
… whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy meditate on these things.  The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.
     Second, we must lengthen our thinking lines long enough to reach where our traps will catch the most good.  In 2 Peter 1:5-11, Peter writes, “
But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.”  He then goes on to explain why this is important, “For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.  Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
     Third, we must lay these catching traps where they will benefit us.  “
Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.  But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness.” (2 Timothy 2:13-14)  “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.  Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.  Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.  Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.  You will know them by their fruits.  Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles?  Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.  A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.  Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.  Therefore by their fruits you will know them.” (Matt. 7:12-20)
     Fourth, we must regularly check our mental lobster traps.  Paul encourages Timothy, “
But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.  All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Tim. 3:14-17)  The Hebrew writer words this thought a little differently, “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:24-25)

      © David G. Churchill; used by permission. (rev.03xxxx-170416)
      Permission guidelines for your use of this article.
      Unless otherwise noted, “Scripture taken from the NEW KING JAMES VERSION.  Copyright © 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.  Used by permission.  All rights reserved.”
      This article’s presentation in Exploring God's Word ©2003 David G. Churchill.
      For additional quality Bible-study materials, contact your local church of Christ or access Exploring God's Word at
      Send us your Bible-related questions.