Don’t Pick Up the Snake

Even today Red Indian boys go away into solitude to prepare for manhood. One such youth decided to test himself against a tall mountain. He threw his blanket over his shoulder and set off to climb the peak. When he reached the top, he stood on the rim of the world. His heart swelled with pride. Then he heard a rustle at his feet, and looking down, he saw a rattlesnake. Before he could move, the snake spoke, “I’m starving and freezing to death up here. Put me under your shirt and take me down to the valley.”

“No,” said the youth. “I have been warned about you rattlesnakes. If I pick you up, you will bite me, and your bite will kill me.”

“No way!” said the snake. “I will treat you differently. If you do me this favor, you will be special. I will not harm you.”

The youth resisted for a while, but that was a very persuasive snake with beautiful markings. So he picked up the snake and tucked it under his shirt. When they were back down in the valley, he took the snake out of his shirt and gently laid it on the grass. Then suddenly it coiled, rattled and sprang, biting the boy on the leg. “But you promised,” he cried.

“You knew what I was when you picked me up,” answered the snake as he slithered away.            – Iron Eyes Cody

Are there some things in your life – thoughts, habits, practices, vices – that you know are sinful but you’re so tempted to do them anyway? Those are the snakes in your life. The snake in this story represents sin. It comes to us in a deceiving manner, appearing all innocent and promising not to hurt us. It makes us believe that it will treat us differently, that we will not end up having the same fate as others before us who have fallen in the same lie.

As the rattlesnake said at the end of the story, “You knew what I was when you picked me up” – the same thing as we know a sin when we see one. It’s just that sometimes, we convince ourselves otherwise, or we let ourselves be blinded by the sugarcoating. But a sin is a sin, and sooner or later, it will come back to bite us and make us pay.

The bible says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

When you’re tempted to sin, think of the boy who picked up the snake…