For the past few weeks, my wife and I have been trying to catch a mouse in our kitchen. The unwelcome rodent managed to eat the peanut butter in the traps without setting them off. Each night, I would set traps in different ways, thinking a new technique might rid my house of the rodent. And each night the mouse would eat the bait without springing the trap. He even taunted us by depositing rodent pellets on the trap itself. Last night, his little mousey luck ran out. At 4:00 am, I heard a snap from the kitchen. I smiled and went back to sleep.
In the morning, I went to see my prize. To my surprise, the trap was missing. Did my wife get up in the night and remove the carcass of the slain beast? Highly unlikely. That is what husbands are for. I looked around and saw the trap on the floor by the refrigerator. I pulled it away from the fridge and found the still-living mouse, caught by the tip his tail. He had been stuck there for hours.
A grim notion crossed my mind: the mouse could have gnawed the tip of his tail off and been freed. It would have been painful and difficult but he would still be alive. Instead, he experienced the wrath of an angry daddy. How dare he move around freely in a room where my children eat?
Jesus said, “And if your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out, and throw it from you; for it is better for you that one of the parts of your body perish, than your whole body to be thrown into hell” (Matthew 5:29). We can be shortsighted when it comes to sin in our lives. We forget that sin has only one purpose and one outcome. That purpose is to destroy your life and the outcome is death: death of dreams, death of relationships, death of joy, death of peace, and even physical death.
Thinking along these lines reminded me of a story one of my old pastors told about monkey poachers in the African bush. These men would trap monkeys by burying glass milk jugs in the dirt up to the neck. The base was fairly wide but the neck was narrow. The poachers would show the monkeys the banana, then place the banana into the glass jug. With the poachers well hidden, the monkeys would come down from the trees to get the bananas. They easily slipped their little monkey hands into the bottle and grabbed the banana. However, when they grabbed the banana, their hands were clenched in such a way that they could not remove both their hand and the banana. The monkeys tried furiously to get the banana out but could not. The poachers would close in and easily net the monkeys. If only the monkeys had let go of the banana, they would have remained free with their monkey families.
Man’s problem is sin. Corruption, poverty, war, cruelty, and every other evil that man experiences are all a result of the sin that lives inside us. Jesus’ death on the Cross paid not only for the forgiveness of sin but also for the power to overcome sin. Jesus gives you the ability to see that you need to let go of the banana; He also gives you the power to actually do it.
-by Pastor Shawn Martin