Appreciating The Little Fish Knife

Saturday, August 12, 2023
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Listen while you read: "God Reveals His Presence"1 (Lyrics)

Galatians 5:14 – For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: "Love your neighbor as yourself." (NLT)

My brother and I don't usually exchange birthday presents, so I was surprised to receive a padded envelope in the mail shortly before my recent birthday. This is more than a card, I thought, fingering a flat, rectangular object in the envelope. When I opened it, the picture on the box revealed a small pocket knife, only three inches long, in the shape of a fish. I recognized it immediately. It was a modern copy of the original knife manufactured in socialist Czechoslovakia before 1989. My brother and I had each had one of the originals, which we had bought for a few Czech crowns, when we first travelled there to visit our relatives in 1961.

My first reaction was bemusement. What am I going to do with this? I thought. We already have so many knives. My brother and I don't see eye-to-eye on many issues, and I mentally dismissed it as another of my brother's "different" ideas of a present. Fortunately, I had time to reflect and to adjust my attitude before I saw my brother on a video chat on my birthday morning.

The Holy Spirit gently reminded me of how special it was that my brother took the time to buy me a gift, wrapping it, sending it, and making a point of calling me first thing on my birthday. The Holy Spirit further pointed out that the fish was an ancient symbol of Christ, although that certainly was not in my brother's awareness. I was convicted of having a critical attitude and of being judgmental and quick to assume that I knew his motivation in giving me a gift that I didn't deem practical. In my lack of awareness, I hadn't seen another side of the situation, but then, I recognized his gift as a reminder of our mutual childhood and a significant link between us.

In Jesus' day, the Pharisees often acted out of a critical attitude. On one occasion, they brought a woman to Jesus.

John 8:4-5 – "Teacher," they said to Jesus, "this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?" (NLT)

Jesus' answer was surprising:

John 8:7b – "All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone." (NLT)

Jesus' answer reflected His love for the woman, not rigid adherence to the law.

The Pharisees were quick to judge the woman's misdemeanour, just as I was quick to think of the little fish knife as not being a gift that I needed. My mental criticism was just as judgmental. As Jesus responded out of His love for people, I believe that my brother was motivated by his love for me when he purchased the little fish knife.

Let's not judge a situation by appearances or by our perception of it. Let's respond from the perspective of love.

Prayer: Thank You, Lord, that You reveal so many life lessons through ordinary experience. Thank You, Holy Spirit, for pointing out when we are judgmental and critical, without first reflecting on the whole picture. Help us to be as loving and accepting of others as You are, and to try to see each one's heart, rather than making snap assumptions. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.

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About the author:

Alice Burnett <>
Red Deer, Alberta, Canada

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Amen Alice.

    Thanks for the good word, Alice.

    There are many ways to express love – patience needed to understand.

    Thank you, Alice, for sharing this encouraging devotional with us today.

    Thank you for your wonderful life lesson and your much needed prayer.

    Thank you, Alice. This reminds me of a gift my father gave me years ago — a medical dictionary. I’m afraid my reaction wasn’t as tempered as yours!

    Alice, Thank you for your reminder today.
    I’m so often guilty of knee-jerk responses in my thinking.
    What a good sentence you wrote: “Let’s respond from the perspective of love”.

    Sweet story about the knife that your brother gave you. A very good lesson on judging others and judging their motivation. It is easy to slip into that mode.
    Thank you for sharing.

    Good morning, Alice,
    Thank you for another good devotional this morning. As a matter of fact, I was doing some writing the other day on the woman who was brought to Jesus. I zeroed in on verse at the end of the story where Jesus said he is the light of the world. Everyone needs His light in this dark world.
    Blessings on you and yours.

    Greetings Alice and thank you for your sweet and very mindful devotional today. Yes, we can so easily make snap judgements about things and how much better it would be if we take time to stop and consider what the true reason might be for someone’s words or actions. One thing we can truly know is that whatever the Lord’s plan is for our life it is for the very best outcome. Blessings as you continue doing these special writings.

    Hi Alice,
    How honest you have been in telling this story of the “little fish knife”.
    I am glad that you were able to look at the gift from a different perspective and valued the gift from your brother and the memories that it brought to you.
    Thank you for sharing this experience so we can all think about our reactions to others and their ideas.
    I struggle with judgment all the time and really try hard to let it go as soon as it pops up. I pray that it will stop popping up, but it hasn’t happened yet. Blessings.

    Very well said Alice, thanks!

    Thank you, Alice, for this very simple but important reminder.

    A beautiful reminder of the human nature of siblings. Blessings.

    Thanks Alice. Your devotion was like seeing with “the third eye.”

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