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Eight Lessons From an Octopus

From ants (Proverbs 6:6) to birds (Matthew 6:26), the Bible says we can learn a lot from animals. Take the octopus. No, there aren’t any Bible verses about these eight-armed, no-boned wonders. But if you dive into an octopus’s world, you’ll find eight great lessons about how to live.

Toxic Cloud
When an octopus feels threatened, it can shoot ink to blind its enemies and confuse their senses. However, the ink is toxic—even to the octopus. If it doesn’t escape the inky cloud quickly, the octopus may die.

Jealousy, selfishness and anger form toxic clouds in our hearts. King Solomon said it best: “Envy makes the bones rot” (Proverbs 14:30, ESV). If we don’t deal with these toxic feelings, they will hurt us. We won’t die, but anger and jealousy can kill even the closest friendships.

Hide or Seek
The octopus doesn’t always use ink clouds to protect itself. It also hides in plain sight. Using special muscles and cells, an octopus can change its skin color to match its environment, creating cool camouflage in the blink of an eye. The mimic octopus can even imitate the color, shape and movements of other fish.

Jesus doesn’t want you to blend into the crowd or compromise your values. He calls us to shine like bright lights (Matthew 5:16). We need to live in a special way that honors God and draws people to Him.

Let’s Jet
Octopuses like to “walk” along the ocean floor. But they’re also graceful swimmers, using their arms and body. If an octopus feels danger, like a group of sharks, it shoots a jet of water from its body—sort of like hitting turbo boost—to get away fast.

Similarly, God wants us to “jet” away from harmful situations (2 Timothy 2:22). Sometimes that means leaving a friend’s house if he’s watching a movie you shouldn’t see. Other times that means running from danger as fast as you can.

Beak With Bite
The octopus has a hard, sharp beak made of keratin (the same stuff as your fingernails). Its bite can crack through a crab shell. Octopuses also use their beaks to inject venom. One bite from the blue-ringed octopus is deadly, even for humans.

You have a powerful mouth, too. Proverbs 18:21 warns, “Life and death are in the power of the tongue.” It might feel good to say mean things when you’re under attack, but hurtful words don’t help. Instead, God wants you to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).

Thinking on Your Feet
Octopuses are smart. They’re one of the few marine animals that can solve problems and recognize patterns. An octopus’s head is larger than its body, but not because it has a big brain. In fact, two-thirds of its brain cells are in its tentacles!

While humans don’t have brains in our arms, God still expects us to keep our whole bodies under control (Matthew 5:29-30). Protect your eyes from bad movies and your ears from bad music. If your feet lead you toward a dangerous crowd, turn and run away.

Heart Trouble
With eight arms, octopuses are bound to have more of something else, right? They need three hearts to keep their blood flowing. That’s why octopuses would rather crawl than swim. Swimming takes more energy (and more oxygen), quickly exhausting them.

God gave you one heart. He doesn’t want it divided or focused on other things. He wants to be the center of your life (Deuteronomy 6:5). It’s not easy, but keeping your whole heart focused on Him will keep you out of trouble (Proverbs 4:23).

“Armed” for Battle
In a fight, octopuses put all eight arms to good use. They sometimes use shells as weapons to fend off attackers.

The Bible tells us to prepare for spiritual battle. Our weapon is Scripture, “the sword of the Spirit” (Ephesians 6:17). Of course, it takes practice to use a sword properly, so spend time in God’s Word. Study it closely and memorize verses. Be sure to guard your heart with holy armor: truth, righteousness, peace, faith and salvation. Finally, surround yourself with good, Christian friends who support you and watch your back (Proverbs 17:17).

Blue Blood
Humans have red, iron-rich blood, but octopuses bleed blue. God filled their blood with copper that gives it a unique blue color. Copper blood works better than iron in cold temperatures, helping this deep-sea dweller survive with limited oxygen.

God also designed you to thrive in your environment (2 Peter 1:3). Sometimes it might feel like you don’t fit in, but God put you in a family, school and community for a reason. Drawing close to Him will give you the spiritual “oxygen” you need to become the person He created you to be.

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