Years ago a friend told me that if you catch several crabs and place them in a basket, you won’t need a lid.
“Won’t they just crawl up and out?” I asked.
“No,” he said. “If one of them starts its ascent and rises to the top, the others will pull him back down.”
Modern society is a study in crab behavior. We’re swimming in a sea of sarcasm. We gossip and talk back and criticize and spew out negativity. We undermine our enemies—and even our friends—without thinking twice about it. From the playground to the boardroom, tearing others down has become commonplace.
If you don’t think so, just look around you. Whenever anyone gets too much praise or attention, some crabby person will feel it’s time to bring the person back down. Kids who discourage other kids and run them down typically belong to parents who specialize in belittling. They are parroting their parents.
But that’s not the way Jesus lived.
Jesus was a cheerleader, a congratulator, an encourager—and for some of the most unexpected people too. He went around touching lepers, welcoming prostitutes, forgiving adulterers. He even went to dinner with a hated tax collector named Zacchaeus when the so-called “holy people” of Jericho wouldn’t give him the time of day. And Zacchaeus changed his ways on the spot, paid back four times what he had gained by cheating people, and became a follower of the Rabbi who accepted him as he was (Luke 19:1–9).
Encouragement breathes life into people. It gives them a second chance. Jesus knew the truth: you never make yourself look big by making others look small.