Something I noticed decades ago (I’m old) is that television programming runs in thematic cycles. It was more noticeable in the days before cable TV and satellite programming. We had only three channels for most of my formative years.
It was hard to miss that there was an era of hospital shows. Each of the three major networks had their hospital-themed program. Then there was an era of police shows. Then cowboy shows. Game shows. Today, even with hundreds of programming options, there is a strong presence of “reality” programming.
Within this reality show theme, a subtheme features shows depicting people surviving under harsh conditions and difficult circumstances. The program’s crew will drop an individual, a couple, or a small group in some remote, unforgiving environment, and we, then, watch them employ their skills to survive. Some are good at it. Others are not so good at it and the latter group ends up tapping out early.
Finding food and water is critical and usually difficult. Often, among the skilled survivalists, the contestant will fashion a snare in hopes of catching something to eat. The snare usually involves a sapling tree and some form of cordage that forms a loop on the end that’s hidden under leaves, grass, or pine needles. When an unwary animal ventures along that pathway, it triggers the snare and the animal is caught and dragged into the air, helpless to free itself.
Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.
– 1 Timothy 3:7, ESV
The verse above is speaking of one who is being considered as an overseer, an elder in a local church. In this case the congregation is the one in Ephesus.
The snare is a παγίς (pahgees), a trap. This is not something one walks into with open eyes and full awareness. That’s just stupidity and rebelliousness. No, this is a trap. We don’t know the trap is there until it has us and we cannot get free of it. παγίς is found five times in the New Testament, and in every case, it refers to the wiles, the devices, the tactics Satan uses to trap us when we are careless.
But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap.
– Luke 21:34, ESV
The context of the verse above is one in which Jesus is telling his disciples that heaven and earth are going to pass away. In this case, there is a connection between the danger of the snare and their own burdened hearts. After warning them of the snare, Jesus told them, “But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things.”1
And David says,
“Let their table become a snare and a trap,
a stumbling block and a retribution for them;”
– Romans 11:9, ESV
Quoting David, above, from Psalm 69:22, the apostle Paul has depicted Israel as having been caught in some snare, referring to the snare as a table. There is nothing even close to agreement among biblical scholars as to what exactly this table is, but what is clear is that is has something to do with their Jewish traditions, faith, heritage . . . their own religious practices became a snare, trap, and stumbling block to them. As a result, they repudiated Christ.
But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.
– 1 Timothy 6:10, ESV
Note the driver above. It is desire, not riches. It is the panting after wealth.
Recall in the first quote above, how Jesus was pointing to their hearts. It is not the wealth that is the problem for a Christ-follower. The Bible never condemns wealth. But the love of wealth . . . this can be an exceedingly dangerous snare. Mark 4:19 speaks of the “deceitfulness of riches.” Here, wealth deceitfully promises something it cannot deliver.
As Christ-followers, servants of the King, we must give great care to staying alert to the devices of Satan.2 As we avoid these snares, maturing in our faith and growing in sanctification, we will likely find opportunity to loose others who have been caught in snares themselves.
And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.
– 2 Timothy 2:24-26, ESV
Those above are captives, enslaved to do the will of the devil. Look around you. Look at social media. Watch a half-hour of the news. Peruse the magazines in the grocery store checkout line.
You see it just as I do. They are captives, doing the will of their father, the devil. We have both the privilege and the responsibility, as servants of the Lord to gently, patiently, with meekness, teach them and help them escape that snare.
As you navigate through life, give exceedingly great care to avoiding the snares as you seek to release those who have been captured by them.
1. Luke 21:36
2. 2 Corinthians 2:11