A Lesson on the Spirit from the Three Little Pigs

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My son and I were discussing the moral ramifications of “The Three Little Pigs,” when a thought struck me. A peculiarly theological thought.

Young pigs strike out from home to seek their fortunes in the world. Each encounters a man carrying a building material. Each builds a home from that building material. Depending on which version of the story you read, the first two pigs either wind up as so much meat sticking to the Big Bad Wolf’s ribs or they escape to the third pig’s impregnable fortress of brick wherein they turn the tables on the wolf and make soup out of HIM.

Being the curmudgeonly type, I prefer the more dire outcome for the two foolish pigs. I mean, the wolf was just being true to type. Why should HE suffer?

Anyway…

You can’t read that story and miss the appellation slathered on the first two pigs: foolish.

But do we ever think why?

In the story I read with my son, the pigs went their separate ways. The first one encounters a man selling straw. In some parts of the world straw makes for a perfectly legitimate building material. How smart of the pig to transact some business and build a house. A house is better than no house, right? I would think so. It rains on the just and the unjust—and on pigs, too. A roof overhead when it’s raining feels pretty darn good.

The second pig, having not heard of the misfortune that eventually caught up with his sibling, contracted with another man to buy wood for his house. Seeing as most of us live in houses made of wood, The one who endured to the end...we’re that second pig. Wood makes a fine house save for encounters with F5 tornadoes and wolves of unusual lung capacity. But that pig was still foolish.

The third pig bode his time and just so happened to come across a man selling bricks. The rest is fairy tale history.

“So, Dan,” you’re saying, “I’ve got 1,732 other blogs to read today. Get to the point.”

Some circles of Christianity, at least in my opinion, have a low view of the Holy Spirit. He seals us for salvation and helps us understand Scripture, but He’s sort of shy and quiet otherwise, kind of the introvert of the Trinity. At least as some would paint Him. He certainly doesn’t go around guiding people. We have all the guidance we need from the Scriptures and there’s no possible reason why we’d need the Holy Spirit to tell us anything apart from what any of us would find in the Book.

Tell that to Pig 1 and Pig 2.

So a man comes up to you with some straw. The pragmatist in your swinish self informs you that straw would make a decent house. The opportunity is right before you. You never know when that straw’s going to show up again. Being quite the religious pig, you consider that God makes straw, right? It’s good stuff. God said so. Plus, you hate being rained on.

Straw it is.

Or a man comes up to you with wood. Strong stuff that wood! Would make a fine house. God makes trees. Plenty of God’s little creatures live in trees. They do okay by God’s trees. And then there’s that Noah guy. Gotta love that wooden boat and all the protection it gave. You’ve been to Sunday School, so…

Wood it is.

Next thing you know, you and your brother’s little digested corpses are so much steaming wolf scat on the side of the road.

What went wrong?

I see this happen in the lives of a lot of Christians. Because they’ve chopped out the Spirit’s ability to speak to them, they make pragmatic choices rather than godly ones. Straw and wood may be perfectly good building material in all but the most bizarre cases. But what does the Spirit say? Would He tell us to hold out for something that might be coming down the road that we can’t see, but He can? Would He ask us to endure the rainstorm for a few more days until the man with bricks enters the scene and saves the day?

For all we know, straw and wood may be our only choices. The pragmatist says to strike while the iron’s hot, to make the most of the opportunities God affords us. But what does the Spirit say?

The storyteller deems the third pig wise. In the eyes of the first two, he’s a fool because he had the opportunity to buy decent building material, but he didn’t. Those first two pigs didn’t have the God’s-eye view, though.

For the truly Spirit-led Christian, of which there seems to be few in this age of pragmatic churchmen, heeding the Spirit occurs throughout the day. The kind of guidance received can’t always be traced back to the Book. Consider this disciple:

Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” And the Lord said to him, “Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.”
—Acts 9:10-12

That’s some mighty fine guidance that disciple received, but he didn’t get it by reading the Book, did he? He took that guidance rather conventionally, too, since the next verse finds him arguing about it with the Lord. Perhaps he was used to the Lord speaking to him. I can’t see any of us in the same situation, the audible voice of God telling us to drive to Death Valley to change the tire of some couple who would be open to hearing the Gospel right there amid the rattlesnakes, and us saying, “But, Lord….” I suspect that the vast majority of us would keel over from fright, our hair bleached white, because it’s far too out-of-the-ordinary that the Holy Spirit should actually guide us like the Book says He will.

Straw was good. Wood was better. Brick was best. How often do we settle for straw because we weren’t listening to the Spirit’s call to hold out for something better? Because we’re so deaf to the sound of the Savior’s voice, we may never know the difference between the pragmatic solution and the one that’s spiritually discerned. But difference there is and the only way to know it is to have the Lord shout it right in our deaf ears until we hear it as a whisper.

Then we’re getting somewhere.

26 thoughts on “A Lesson on the Spirit from the Three Little Pigs

  1. Ronni

    People so hate it when I ask them, “so what did God say about that?” when they ask me a question. They relent and relent, and I say, well, what has God told you? What have you heard from Him lately?

    They look at me cross eyed when I tell them that God told me to take the back route instead of the highway and I missed an hour long traffic jam. When I tell them I turned down a great paying job because God told me to work in service to the homeless and low income. They wonder why I make these choices, how I manage to hear.

    I tell them shut up and listen long enough, and you will hear the whisper.

    When I pray for someone who has never heard the voice of God, I ask Him to shout until they can settle down to hear His normal speech. Usually it’s only that first “aha!” that gets them.

    “I just don’t think I’m to hear God” is not longer an allowed excuse near me. We are designed to converse with Him. There is no excuse.

    As for me and my house… we are cinderblock and stucco. HA!

    • Ronni,

      I think that many people give up because so many other voices are clamoring in their thoughts. More people need one of those clarifying Elijah moments when the earthquake and storm subside and the whisper comes through.

  2. Great post, Dan. It’s nice to see someone else talking about the Spirit speaking to us. Of course, you know how that’s received by a lot of people.

    By the way, that whole “introvert of the Trinity” line cracked me up!! 🙂

    • Steve,

      We teach our kids the story of Samuel and Eli, but then we act as if it didn’t happen. Then we get a NT version in Ananias and Saul and we still think it doesn’t happen. We read about people being led in this way, then we say it was for another time. I don’t see how any of that makes sense. Worse still, it forces the immutable God to change.

  3. JD

    Dan, I really appreciate the use of the 3 little pigs story to point us to a deeper life lesson. A problem I’ve seen with people looking for “God’s voice” is that they sometimes don’t seek clear guidance from God’s Word, fellow believers, etc and are looking for a ‘bright light/earth shattering ‘ experience from God to give them guidance.

    I know that a number of times, I’ve had God speak to me through something as simple as a radio program that “coincidentally” was addressing a specific spiritual issue that I was struggling with on that particular day.
    God has no limit on the number of ways he can speak to us – I think that all too often, I need to ‘clear the wax out’ and listen so that I can hear His voice .

    • JD,

      The interesting way that God works in our lives should tell us how we’re missing Him. If we take a step forward, He’ll meet us there and ask us to take another step. If we do, He’ll meet us there and ask for another step.

      But somewhere along the line, too many of us in the United States decide we’ve come far enough and don’t need to take anymore steps. We pitch our tent on the narrow road and stay there. Then we wonder why the Bible doesn’t line up with our experience.

      It’s because we got complacent and satisfied, two of the greatest dangers to the human soul.

  4. Diane Roberts

    Careful Dan…….you are sounding a little Charismatic here…..LOL.

    Seriously, this is an absolutely excellent post. If I could tell Christians just ONE thing today, it would be what you said—pragmatism isn’t always Godism. God’s ways are not our ways and His thoughts aren’t our thoughts. God doesn’t mold the world according to our opinions. He molds it according to His opinions and thoughts, so we had better find out what those are. It took me a long time to “get” that principle through my head, but I have had much more joy now that I understand and practicing seeking it.

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  6. Enoch

    Thank you for the use of a clear example.
    I can’t help but think of Numbers 22:21 – 35 the animal saw the angel in the road but the man did not, God made the animal to speak to the man, and finally the man saw the angel.
    So many times we have to be hit with something so out of order before we wake up and hear (see) the wishes of God in our lives.

  7. cynthia

    Great post, Dan…and I hardly ever have time to comment, but this is excellent. Who knew a fairy tale could become a parable and with the Holy Spirit’s guidance wisdom could come from even a pig. I’m feeling hopeful. 🙂

  8. Dan,

    God has really been actively working in my life to bringing me slowly into a faith that allows me to take time out of my busy day to meditate and listen for God’s direction and guidance. I’ve been reading “celebration of discipline” By Richard Foster and it’s been most convicting for me.

    Coming out of a more strict Reformed tradition, yes, I confess that I used to be one of those in the camp of “God doesn’t speak to us today.” But I no longer lead my faith in that way.

    But of course at the same time, I’m very careful of trying to discern God’s voice and the Spirit’s unctions and I always try to gauge them with the Word. Because I’ve also been apart and active in a large part of the Church who tends to guide their spirituality, their faith by listening only without the balancing of the Word.

    It is my humble opinion that there are three essential things we must be doing daily.

    1. Reading the Word of God.
    2. Meditating, reflecting and listening for His guidance
    3. Praying

    I believe if we are actively doing all three of these, then we will be on the very balanced foundation of Jesus Christ. 🙂

    Thank you again for this post brother, it was very uplifting for me. May His peace and love be with you and your ministry always.

    Y.B.I.C,

    Dave

  9. Good post, Dan. I do wonder – to what extent are Christians supposed to expect this voice of God to be telling them what to do? God has never actually spoken to me to do things in the way He did with Elijah or Ananias. There have been times when I’ve felt like God had laid something out for me (such as when my wife and I met and were married) but I can’t say even at those times, I heard God’s voice, whisper or otherwise. Rather I consulted His word and prayed and made what I thought was the right, Godly decision.

    I am not trying to be contrary – I really do think simple pragmatism isn’t the Godly way to go about decisions. And I am sure there are times when the “voice” of God is compelling – but how does one “hear” the voice of God? Is it a feeling you get? Because lots of people say they heard God tell them something about what decision to make. Reggie White, for example, said God told him to retire. Then he said God told him to un-retire to join the Carolina Panthers. Etc. At the end of his life he said something about how he was making a mockery of “God said” and really it was code for “Reggie wants.” Now, he probably couldn’t be blamed for not wanting to hear God’s voice or not paying attention – so how does one discern whether or not they are actually hearing God’s voice telling them to go a certain way?

    I am personally of the mindset that we need to be doing the things mentioned in the above posts – like reading scripture, praying, meditating on scripture, etc. But I’m not confident God will give us a whisper or a word beyond what He’s given us in the scripture. This is not to say God can’t or doesn’t – I’m just not sure how normal it is or if we can expect it to be the usual way of doing things.

    • Jackson,

      I think that we need to keep asking the Lord to reveal Himself to us in more personal ways. I think we also need to find silence and pursue holiness. Getting the noise and dross out of our lives opens up our communication with Him.

  10. Peter Smythe

    Dan, I appreciate your post.

    In examining those who speak of “Scripture only” in the sense that God only leads through the book, I really wonder if they know what they are talking about. For instance, in Romans 8:16, the Word says, “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.” The “beareth witness” is present tense in the Greek which means that it is a present-tense reality for those of us that are born-again. I, for one, do not see where these guys can separate the book its content of living, present-tense realities of those who are born-again.

    And just a comment about Elijah and Ananias –

    In Hebrews 2:4, the Word speaks of “distributions” of the Holy Ghost given to prophets in the Old Testament. Those distributions were different from the indwelling presence that we have today. I do like what one of my friends preached a couple of weeks ago, “When you see Elijah in heaven, you’ll run up to him and ask him, ‘What was calling down fire from heaven like?’ And he’ll respond, ‘What was in like to have the reality of the promise on earth? The indwelling Spirit of God?'”

    With Ananias, the experience was plainly a discerning of spirits as identified in I Corinthians. When Paul was on the ship, he said that he “perceived” that the ship would be lost with all the crew. That kind of perception is the way that God generally leads us today because of the indwelling. Though Ananias experiences still occur, they are just as rare as they were with him. His experience also involved a momentous moment for Paul and for the church which explains a little why the Lord did what He did.

  11. Marta Odum

    Great post! I would imagine the Holy Ghost spoke to you to impart the wisdom you found embedded in the fairy tale! I’m Apostolic (Pentecostal) so I believe that, upon being baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of my sins and filled with the precious gift of the Holy Ghost, I have Christ dwelling on the inside of me, and therefore I do directly hear God guiding me. But I have to stay connected through prayer, fasting, reading the Word, and attending church throughout the week. As my pastor says, if you let air get between you and God you allow the devil to slip in there and start talking to you. Then you can hear Christ’s guidance-and choose to ignore it. Which can lead to sin which can ultimately lead to the quenching of the Holy Ghost.

    As Christians we must cultivate and protect our connection with Jesus. Thank you for the awesome post! God Bless!

  12. Tim Frank

    Dan,
    I am doing a message/sermon on Matthew 7:24-25 and am thinking of
    incorporating the three little pigs. My take on it is a little different
    in that the first two little pigs made homes out of materials that do
    not withstand the rain and winds of life referred in the above verse.
    More importantly, the brick house is like the house built on rock that
    can fight the big bad wolf – Satan, the weakness in ourselves, and the
    things life throws at us. This is my first sermon so I hope it goes well

  13. akaGaGa

    When I run across folks of the “He stopped speaking school,” I go find John 10:16 “I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd.”

    If Jesus Himself tells us we will hear His voice, who are we to argue?

    As for me? I audibly heard Him once, within a couple weeks of being saved. I was in a church for the 2nd time and there was a different man in the group on stage. I didn’t know who he was, but I heard this voice behind me say, “He’s troubled. You’ll help him.” I turned around to see who was talking – and of course, there was no one near close enough. And I thought, “Whoaaa … that musta been God” and started shaking like leaf. Turns out, the “new man” was the pastor, who had been out of town the week before. And, yes, a situation arose where he was very troubled, and forewarned, I was not afraid to step in and help.

    I think God spoke aloud that first time so I would understand that He speaks. (I came from a Reformed background.) So with my ears eargerly attuned, I have heard Him on other occasions, just not with that same voice.

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