In Matthew 15:21-28, Jesus is approached by a Canaanite woman in regards to her possessed daughter. Upon requesting his assistance with the issue, Jesus responds in the following way.
His first response is to ignore her:
– v.23, “But he answered her not a word.“
When she is not responded to by the Lord, she seeks the help of His disciples, to which they complain to Him, asking that He send her away. His second response is just as discouraging as His first:
– v.24, “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.“
Jesus expresses to this woman that the gentiles are not His priority, but rather the nation of Israel is His priority. The woman persists by worshipping Him and saying three simple words, “Lord, help me.” This persistence brings about Jesus’ third response, which does not seem to get any better than the others:
– v.26, “It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs.“
It is here we see how Jesus refers to the gentiles as, “dogs.” The Jews did not look favorably upon the gentiles and being a Jew, Jesus simply reacted the way most Jews did at the time. His response was not one of a lack of compassion, but rather one of a legalistic nature. We must remember that Jesus did not come to break any laws, but rather to set up and execute God’s salvation plan. In doing so, there would be a transitioning from the keeping of the law and that of the age/dispensation of grace.
The woman’s persistence on the behalf of her daughter is far from over. She counters the Lord’s words with, “Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.” I doing so, she did not deny the truth which He speaks, but adds to it even more truth. Although the Jews are God’s chosen people, even in the Old Testament days there were portions of the crops left for the stranger (gentile). She was simply persisting with just as much truth as He had spoken. She was not requesting any special treatment, just a crumb of compassion.
This brings us to Jesus’ fourth response:
– v.28, “O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt.“
The bible records that in that same hour, the woman’s daughter was healed.
In searching the behavior of stray dogs, I found some interesting facts to share, considering that’s what I was, “Just an Ole Stray Dog,” until the Lord rescued me.
Stray dogs have various behavioral issues that must be dealt with, if they are to become a loving pet. One of these issues is anxiety. Stray dogs are stray for many different reasons. Possibly they were mistreated and discarded. Maybe they left where they were due to undernourishment. It’s even possible they were adopted, only to start running with a pack of strays and adopted the behavioral patterns of the pack. A stray shows anxiety is different ways, whereas one may be very timid, another may be hostile when approached, which brings me to the next behavioral issue…aggression.
If you have other pets and bring home a stray or befriend a neighborhood stray, then it may show aggression toward your other pets. Sometimes this is due to the natural instinct of ensuring territorial boundaries. Essentially, who’s the boss. Then again, it may be because the stray has never received the proper attention and reacts the only way it knows how to. This is where patience is a must. You cannot simply discipline the stray, nor can you allow the behavior to take place. Trial and error is needed to correct the behavior of the stray, while maintaining a peaceful environment for the existing obedient pets.
This brings me to the final behavior issue I’d like to present and that is fear. Fear is actually the motive behind the anxiety and the aggression. Fear causes a stray dog to act strange from one case to another. Like we said before, one stray may be timid and distant, while another shows aggression toward any act of love. Fear is there because the stray is not used to the new surroundings. Trust must be built between owner and pet to overcome fear.
Using the scripture and the aforementioned information, it brings me to the conclusion of this article. I was just an ole stray dog one day, until the Lord reached out and rescued me. I was anxious and fearful and even aggressive at times, yet His longsuffering overcome my fears. Just an ole stray dog, those traits are still there. Sometimes the instinct of the flesh seems more powerful than I remember and I become fearful and anxious. When handled incorrectly by another of God’s children, I can be aggressive and snap or bark. That nature will always be something I have to keep under subjection, for that is exactly why Paul wrote what he wrote in 1 Corinthians 9:27.
Just like that ole stray, sometimes we get poked by one (the devil), but lash out at another (the brethren), not realizing who is doing the poking. Folks, we are all strays rescued by Jesus. Those of us who have been rescued the longest are responsible to care and be understanding of those who have just been rescued. Having compassion and understanding is necessary in the building of His church. Sadly, sometimes strays were once well obedient pets, but have lost sight of the care of the Master and who the real enemy is.
In His service,
2 Cor. 12:9