While reminiscing with an old friend recently, he told me a story about worshipping the Lord “back in the day” when automobiles were as scarce as hen’s teeth. He spoke of his parent’s faithfulness to God, gathering up several children and walking multiple blocks to attend the church’s assembly every first day of the week without fail. As an aside, he recalled that his dog, Pooch, often accompanied them on the journey, lying on the church steps of the assembly hall until the dismissal prayer, ready only then to make the trip home.
One Sunday, his father having acquired a new car, decided to visit the thriving metropolis of Joplin, TX (remember this was “back in the day”), and worship with the church there. The dog was not invited on this excursion, but, like clockwork, made the trip to the building in Jacksboro that Sunday morning solo, and laid up on the steps, returning home only after the final “Amen” of the service. Hearing this story (and having all confidence in the reliability of Claude’s… uh, this story-teller’s account), I said to myself, “Self, Pooch just taught a lesson.”
I would not insult the readership by claiming that this dog had the smarts to know God (Hebrews 11:6) and assemble on the first day of the week to worship Him (Acts 20:7), as Christians are commanded to do (Hebrews 10:24-25); but that’s not what Pooch taught. The lesson from “man’s best friend” was being in the habit of doing. For the dog, it wasn’t a religious habit but a foregone conclusion that on Sunday morning at the appropriate time, there was a trip to be made and life was not right without it.
For the lack of a good habit, some “profess to know God, but in works deny Him” (Titus 1:16). Oh, a person can say he/she loves God (1 John 4:8) but if assembling on the first day of the week is not a foregone conclusion, if the habit is not set in stone, instead of a Pooch on the porch, “sin lies at the door” (Genesis 4:7). And, “if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins” (Hebrews 10:26).
Dogs are not the only animal to teach humans spiritual lessons (cf. ox, Deuteronomy 25:4; donkey, Numbers 22:28; bird, Matthew 6:26) and, even though some dogs teach us unpleasant things (Proverbs 26:11), Pooch had it right.