There’s an old anecdote that says if you want to cook a live frog, you can’t simply drop him in a pot of boiling water. He’ll simply jump out. You have to place him in cool water where he feels happy and comfortable, and then slowly turn up the heat so he gets used to the water and doesn’t notice that he’s being boiled alive. Poor frog.
I’ve remembered this illustration through the years because first, if I’m ever stranded in a place where frogs are the only food option, this knowledge might come in handy. And second, it does illustrate a particular human trait rather well. Our tendency is to overlook small changes (compromises or new habits) until the heat is on full strength and bam! We’ve been boiled.
For example, unless you weigh yourself every day, you’re probably not going to notice one or two pounds gained here and there. Then suddenly you can’t fit into your favorite dress or you have to lie down to zip up your jeans. Boiled.
Perhaps you’ve shoved an item into your garage to get it out of the way "for now," but pretty soon you can’t get into your garage. Yeah, boiled again.
We all have areas in our lives that are pretty “froggy,” either because of laziness, misdirected energy, or we’re simply not paying attention to what’s going on around us. In fact, there are whole industries whose sole purpose is to take advantage of our perpetual state of distraction. Politicians lull us into believing they can create a fairyland with good ole’ American values, with peace and safety for all. Advertisers masterfully trick us into spending more of our money.
As a mom, I pay close attention to what my children watch on TV and view on their apps. But it’s nearly impossible to find any form of media these days without sorcery, villainy, or even under-the-radar brainwashing about the origin of the world. Our kids idolize Spiderman instead of the One who created spiders. They’d rather be a part of the Marvel universe than spend time marveling at the universe. They would rather have super powers than commune with the ultimate Power. Fast forward a few years and you find us adults, who grew up in the continually expanding digital world of pre-chewed news and entertainment which strives to emancipate us from critical thinking, family values and even basic Christian principles. Truly, we don’t have to create our own pots to boil ourselves in. There are plenty of well-trained chefs out there hoping to add us to their amphibian stew.
A Dove chocolate wrapper once told me, “Temptation is fun ... giving in is even better!” Another one said, “If it feels good, do it.” This is the world we are immersed in. This the mantra of today. If it sounds familiar, it is. It’s the same message fed to Eve by the serpent. (To be clear, the serpent did not use a Dove chocolate.)
To help gauge how hot your water is, imagine a perfect being from another world coming to earth, having never met or seen a human before. He wants to visit a Christian home, so he goes to yours. What would he think? Would he feel close to his Heavenly Father while hanging out with you in your living room, looking through your viewing history on Netflix, and checking out your budget for spending versus giving?
It’s so easy to get complacent, isn’t it? Every once in a while, we feel a prick of conscience (hear a good sermon or have a particularly good devotional time) and have one of those “Is it getting hot in here?” moments, look around to see if anyone else is feeling the heat, and then shrug and go back to enjoying our warm bath. We’re comfortable, no doubt. So what will it take? What will make us finally take notice of our peril and jump for our lives?
I don’t have all the answers, and honestly, I think the journey looks different for each of us. This I do know: Don’t try to go it alone. Proverbs 14:12 says, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death,” ESV. Basically that means all the philosophizing, mental meanderings and cranking of our head gears is absolutely useless without the super power of God’s wisdom. When we look to Him through study and prayer and Christian fellowship and keeping our eyes only on “whatsoever is pure” (see Philippians 4:8), we will begin to notice how hot our water is and start moving away from the flame. Satan is REALLY good at keeping that gas burning and at distracting us so we don’t notice our steamy plight. If he can distract us long enough, he wins. He wins us, separated from God forever.
Ellen White brings these thoughts to our attention in chapter 25 of Christ’s Object Lessons:
“Only by faithfulness in the little things can the soul be trained to act with fidelity under larger responsibilities,” p. 356.
“In the smallest as well as the largest affairs of life He desires us to reveal to men the principles of His kingdom,” p. 357.
“The work to which as Christians we are called is to co-operate with Christ for the salvation of souls. This work we have entered into covenant with Him to do. To neglect the work is to prove disloyal to Christ. But in order to accomplish this work we must follow His example of faithful, conscientious attention to the little things. This is the secret of success in every line of Christian effort and influence,” p. 358.
In these statements White is imploring us, for the sake of our own salvation and the gospel work itself, to pay attention. We need to take time to notice the small changes in our hearts and lives. We can’t just THINK we know what is right and wrong, we must go to the Source and find out. It’s time to take a giant leap up and out of the boiling pot into the safety of a true, beautiful, loving connection with the Savior. We don’t have to sit here for long to figure out that it is definitely getting hot in here.