Dead Monkeys

I was checking out at a convenience store recently and as I was waiting in line to check out with the lady at the cash register, I saw there off to the side a figurine that I had not seen in a long time. It was the three monkeys, one with his hands cupped over his eyes and one with his hands cupped over his ears and one with his hands cupped over his mouth. While there was no writing on the figurine I knew that the monkeys were speaking of, “See no evil, Hear no evil, Speak no evil.” I remembered in a moment of time when at school, teachers instructed us on a number of occasions that we should pay attention to these figures and live our lives with those instructions in mind to see no evil and hear no evil and speak no evil.

It wasn’t enough that we heard it sometimes at school. I got the same simple message at home, very possibly with greater emphasis. Since I had not lately seen the monkeys on display or in stores, I began to think maybe they’re dead and while I stood there waiting to pay I realized that in our society they’re probably not seen and their powerful, symbolic teaching is not heard. Probably more significant in our culture is the old, worn phrase, “Monkey see, Monkey do,” for whenever someone comes to the public eye doing or saying or seeing or receiving things that may be questionable or downright evil because they are doing it, it’s alright for everyone else to do it.

I don’t remember reading the obituary of the three monkeys, though. I don’t know when they passed but they certainly are not prominent in our world and their absence adds to the sadness and dismal condition of our culture. While it may appear as though these monkeys are dead in our day and time, the truth of the Word of God lives on and God has something to say about each of these areas. When it comes to “See no evil,” God’s Word says in Luke 11:34, “The light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light; but when thine eye is evil, thy body also is full of darkness.”

The truth of God’s Word is you need to give attention to and simplify your eyes, meaning keep your eyes on the right things and off the wrong things. There are things in every realm of life that are not yours, should not be yours, and you should not even turn your eyes toward them and covet or long or lust for them. You will find it true all through the Bible that to do otherwise is to open your mind, your imagination, and even your actions to things that are harmful. Whether you examine Adam and Eve looking upon the tree and seeing that the fruit is pleasing to the eye, or you’re David looking upon a woman who was not his but belonged to another, or Judas who could just see that thirty pieces of silver being all his, it was everywhere in the Bible and it is today all around us. Simplify your eyes to look only on those things that God has in store for you — things that are right before Him, pleasing to Him, and a blessing to you. See no evil.

When you listen to the Bible, you would benefit from shutting your ears. Listen to the Word of God in Proverbs 26:21-22, “As coals are to burning coals, and wood to fire; so is a contentious man to kindle strife. The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly.” The wise man is telling us that we should not be talebearers, people who fill their ears and indeed their minds with the talk, criticism, and dirt of this world, because you’ll find yourself just down the street unloading it on someone else — a talebearer. If there’s no wood, the fire goes out. If there’s no talebearer, strife ceases. It is true and you and I should commit ourselves to not being a part of listening to all the stuff that is corrupt and harmful. We should commit ourselves to hear no evil.

The third area is to slow down your tongue. God’s clear teaching found in James 1:19 tells us to be slow to speak. Listen to the entire verse: “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.” There are dozens of other verses in the Bible that point to the same truth that we are not to be people who speak evil.

While the three monkeys may be dead today, these three marvelous truths from the Word of God are alive and need to be demonstrated in each of us. Trust the Lord to sensitize you that wherever you might be, in whatever setting whether it be social or business, church or friends, to see no evil, speak no evil, hear no evil. Let the Lord be honored in your relationships and life.

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Jim Futral
Executive Director-Treasurer