They just have an angry mindset. You’re hardly aware of them, then, Ouch!
They don’t need a reason, or any aggravation, they’re just out to sting. And more than once. They can sting numerous times, because they don’t leave their stinger behind. They just keep using it.
Actually they are said to bite even before they sting, so that their sting gives a better jab. An entomologist has said that the stinger of a yellow jacket is one of the most painful among the stings—like extinguishing a burning cigar on your tongue. Bees, hornets, wasps all sting, but the yellow jackets surpass them in pain.
What is the solution? Let them have their space. Let them enjoy their misery, because that’s all they’re going to get. Just another pleasurable sting.
I had the privilege of contacting one of them a few weeks back, when I grabbed hold of an ear of corn. I didn’t see the creature, but I surely felt him. And I let him go as quickly as possible.
That’s the yellowjacket story. You may be minding your own business, not bothering them at all, but yellowjackets don’t care. They’ll sting you anyway!
How does one get along with the yellowjacket personality? Only one answer: take it in the right spirit, without reacting, or complaining, or retaliating in kind.
Bottom line: You’re not going to change the nature of the yellowjacket!
Paul found yellowjackets among the Jews wherever he went. Not strange that he mentioned it several times. What did he say?
1 Thessalonians 5:15 (REB) 15See to it that no one pays back wrong for wrong, but always aim at what is best for each other and for all.
He wrote it again to the Romans:
Romans 12:17 17Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men.
We are not free to take vengeance just because some yellowjackets sting us. Paul says, Expect it. You can’t keep the yellowjackets from stinging, even when you have been good to them. You may be paid “evil” when you have done good. Be prepared.
You will feel the pain. None are exempt. The goal, however, is PEACE—if it be possible—which also tells us it will NOT always be possible.
Romans 12:18-19 18If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.
But in any case, the rules are the same: No vengeance. No retaliation.
19Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.
A better translation of this passage is:
Romans 12:19 (REB) 19My dear friends, do not seek revenge, but leave a place for divine retribution; for there is a text which reads, ‘Vengeance is mine, says the Lord, I will repay.’
Paul says, Let God take care of the yellowjackets. That is His part. They won’t sting Him!
Peter gives the same advice on how to deal with the yellowjackets. First some sound advice on getting along with the friendly “bees,” the workers in the colony:
1 Peter 3:8–9 8Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous;
What about the yellowjackets?
9not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.
Leave the stingers alone, says Peter. Don’t try to get even or change them. Your job is to take it in the right spirit, blessing instead of reviling. How is that possible—because yellowjacket stings can make real suffering. What is the right way to take that suffering?
Peter answers it in the same letter. He is talking about how to take suffering—unjust suffering.
1 Peter 4:14 14If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified.
The translation is even more direct in the New English Bible:
1 Peter 4:14 (NEB) 14If Christ’s name is flung in your teeth as an insult, count yourselves happy, because then that glorious Spirit which is the Spirit of God is resting upon you.
Don’t let the yellowjackets upset you, Peter says. They are trying to insult you? “Count yourselves happy” because you have the glorious spirit, the blessing of God, resting on you.
Paul said the same:
Romans 12:14 14Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
Again Paul said:
Titus 2:7–8 7In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, 8Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.
Even when they try to criticize, some will be ashamed—they can’t do it honestly!
Taking unfair suffering in the right spirit is one of the severest tests of character. Peter is very specific in his description:
1 Peter 2:19–20 19For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully. 20For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God.
Hear the yellowjackets whirring around you? You’ve tried to be good to them, but they didn’t notice. They have their teeth and their stingers all lined up, ready for action. What do you do?
1 Peter 2:20 20…when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God.
Taking it patiently gets written down to your credit—Peter says “this is commendable before God.” The yellowjackets may be stinging for no reason at all! This is their nature. But God doesn’t miss your humble response.
Peter was deeply impressed with the spirit in which Christ took His supremely unjust suffering, and how He responded to His persecutors. He said Jesus gave us the perfect example to follow.
1 Peter 2:21–23 21For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: 22“Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth”; 23who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously;
What sterling quality of character!
Reviled, he did not revile in return.
Suffering, he did not threaten.
Rather, what did Jesus do?
1 Peter 2:21–23 23who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously;
He committed it all to the keeping of His Father, who would judge righteously. This was one enormous lesson Peter learned from Jesus. Remember when Peter could hardly bring himself to forgive his brother, who had repented? And now he is advising his brethren on how to take unjust suffering themselves!
Jesus said it first—Peter likely heard Jesus say it, and remembered it.
Matthew 5:10–12 10Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Persecution—either from inside or outside—has been par for the course from the beginning. But note that it must be for “righteousness sake”—because you are doing RIGHT, not just because someone has a grudge against you.
Jesus goes on:
11“Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.
Hear again the qualifiers. It is their evil nature—they are yellowjackets—but they must be speaking evil against you “FALSELY” and it must be “for MY [for Jesus’] sake.”
Jesus continues, verse 12:
12Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
There were many others in Scripture who had to deal with yellowjackets. Think of Paul with Alexander the coppersmith. What did Paul say about him? It is one brief sentence.
2 Timothy 4:14 14Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm. May the Lord repay him according to his works.
Only one sentence, but it could have been difficulty for Paul through many months.
What did Stephen say about his persecutors?
Acts 7:59–60 59And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
On several occasions the fierce yellowjacket Jews made up lies to sting and accuse Paul –unjustly—of causing trouble.
Acts 25:7–8 7… the Jews … laid many serious complaints against Paul, which they could not prove, 8while he answered for himself, “Neither against the law of the Jews, nor against the temple, nor against Caesar have I offended in anything at all.”
What could he do to silence them?
Acts 25:10–11 10So Paul said, “I stand at Caesar’s judgment seat, where I ought to be judged. To the Jews I have done no wrong, as you very well know. 11For if I am an offender, or have committed anything deserving of death, I do not object to dying; but if there is nothing in these things of which these men accuse me, no one can deliver me to them. I appeal to Caesar.”
Yellowjackets for sure, fierce, fiery and biting.
But Paul’s confidence and hope in God was unshaken. He would go straight forward, through whatever God permitted, His one goal the same high calling:
Philippians 3:14 14I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
Paul had the yellowjackets, and so do we. Our challenge: to take their sting in the spirit of Christ, the spirit of Paul, and our own high calling in Christ Jesus: see it as only a slight problem in view of what lies ahead.
2 Corinthians 4:17 17For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,
Just think about that “far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”
Have you been stung? Feel some pity for the yellowjacket. That bit of satisfaction is all he will get. Your prize is ahead, and that is something the yellow jacket sting cannot harm!