Spiritual Crabology

“Be devoted to one another in brotherly love . . . Rejoice with those who rejoice.” Romans 12:10 & 15 (NIV)

I was introduced to this concept years ago by a Mississippi pastor. Being familiar with the fishing industry in the Gulf he described how those catching crabs did not need to put a lid on the container in which the crabs were kept. Naturally one would think that any crab that wanted to, could simply crawl up over the edge and escape. But the curious nature of the crab is that instinctively those in the group reach up and pull down the ones climbing out, back into the bucket. They will not allow one another to break free which sadly seals their collective fate. He referred to that mentality as crabology.

Crabology of course extends to human behavior. It says in effect that “if I can’t be free, neither can you.” It is the tendency to want to downplay, discourage and even disallow someone else from a breakthrough or succeeding at something that we have not experienced. It may be motivated by envy or jealousy, a competitive attitude or simply ignorance as to what is really happening.

Needless to say crabology also has spiritual applications and implications. Paul the apostle addresses this very thing in his letter to the Romans when he said “rejoice with those who rejoice.” This injunction is set in the context of seven verses in which Paul is giving specific instructions to Christian believers as to how to get along with one another. (Romans 12:9-16) All of it is great advice and very much needed, as evidenced by how frequently it has not been heeded.

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