Several years ago, a young girl wrote in to the Ann Landers advice column that was in her local newspaper with the following question:
“Dear Ann, I am a 13 year old girl who is tired of getting yelled at by my parents all of the time. All I hear from morning until night is, ‘Clean up your room! Pick up your clothes! Do your homework! Finish your chores!’ How can I get them off my back? Signed, Sick of Parents.”
Ann Landers wisely responded in this way:
“Dear Sick, You want to get your parents off of your back? It’s easy…clean up your room; pick up your clothes, do your homework and finish your chores!”
Why is it that so many of us, even as Christians, struggle with being obedient and hating sin in our lives? I think that one of the main reasons is due to the fact that we do not understand how they catch monkeys in some parts of South America. In this region, monkeys are considered a delicacy and hunting for monkeys is an art. Here is what they do. The take a coconut and cut a whole in the end of it that is just big enough for a monkey to get its finger and thumb into it, but if he grabs a piece of the coconut inside, he can not get his finger and thumb back out again. They then tie a coconut to a stake, pound the stake into the ground, and then they go wait in the bushes.
Sure enough, a monkey ultimately comes along. He picks up the coconut and puts his finger and thumb inside the hole, grabbing a piece of the fruit inside. Try as he might, the monkey can not get his finger and thumb back out. He shakes the coconut trying to free it from the stake. Meanwhile, out of the bushes come the hunters with their knives, spears, tanks and bazookas. The monkey sees them coming. He knows he is in danger. The monkey knows that all that he has to do is let go of the piece of coconut inside and scram. But instead, the monkey becomes monkey stew.
Such is the case with many Christians. We have coconuts in our lives. These are sins that we know are displeasing to God. We know that they are causing us harm. Yet, we won’t give up the coconuts. What does it mean to hate and forsake sin in our lives? It means to take the coconuts that we are hanging on to and to throw them as far away from us as we possible can.
So tell me, is it true in your life? Are there any coconuts in your life that it’s time to get rid of? Are there any secret sins that you have been holding on to for far too long? How true are the words of the Psalmist when he writes, “Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit” (Psalm 32:1-2). Maybe it’s time to clean up the room, pick up the clothes, do the homework, and finish the chores.