Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Doing more than monkey business

Remember the three monkeys? Monkey #1 defiantly refused to see anything. Monkey #2 is determined not to listen to anything. And #3 will say nothing, not even a comment, yea or nay. Each has noble motives, or so it appears, purposing no contact with any evil whatsoever! Inspite of their stubborness, you have to admire their intentions. If only more of us monkeys would be as resolved, we would avoid foot-in-mouth embarrassments as well as many other contaminations! These three teach us among other things, that good intentions alone are not enough.

Consider another set of three types of people mentioned in Scripture. Two exhibit admirable qualities although severely handicapped, and the third is our example to follow. Whereas the monkeys were in denial, these three seem to be just the opposite, eager to see, hear, and receive instruction!

The first is the hearer. He is present every time instructions are given. He is all ears, he nods with approval and says "amen to that!" Unfortunately that is as far as he goes, ready to hear, but slow to move, and missing in action. Initially he is on fire, but nowhere to be found at the end of the day. By failing to act upon that which he hears, he deceives others as well as himself. Something is wrong with this picture. He is not as committed as he appears.

The second is very wise, or so it seems. This is the knower, the "wise" man. He assures all that he's been there and done that, offering advice and counsel for all situations. Given all his wisdom however, his track record is strangely disappointing, for he is content only with compiling information for show, and not with being an example. Worse is the fact that without first-hand experience, his counsel can be unreliable. The danger looming for him is that his life is in conflict with his knowledge. Something troubling is also very wrong in this picture. He knows the truth but chooses to live otherwise. Eventually his life style will override his knowledge, and his beliefs will soon conform to the way he lives. This person cannot be trusted and is already in motion on a slippery slope.

Although both the hearer and the knower are flawed, they should not be thrown out with the bath water. The challenge is to show them the danger they are in, and then to motivate them to experience the truth to which they have been exposed.

Our example is the doer. He hears and understands, but he also is able to apply what has been learned. He speaks from experience and the consistency of his life is his most impressive credential. Of what value is the intent listener, or the man with knowledge, if few if any are ultimately benefitted by their lives? Doers succeed, improve the lives of others, and make excellent leaders. Surely the tongue must be bridled, the eye guarded, and the life kept unspotted from the world, but he that does the will of God abides forever.

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