2 Kings 6:8-23, NLT
“Don’t be afraid!” Elisha told him. “For there are more on our side than on theirs!” 2 Kings 6:16, NLT
It was such a joy to have birds building their nests in our garden and front porch. At one time, we saw God’s loving care when two baby birds were able to fly off from their nest after they had fallen out of the nest a couple of times. However, a few days ago, we were devastated when a monkey snatched and ate up two baby birds from a nest in our front porch. It was so heart breaking to see the mother bird flying frantically looking for her babies in the broken nest.
The monkey had seen the baby birds as food but we had a special relationship with the birds as we saw them as our guests. It dawned on me that there is a “monkey mind” in all of us when our relationships with others are dictated by lust, greed and pride. To live a life of love, joy and peace we need the mind of Christ to see that all of us are children of God.
The king of Aram had sent a great army to capture Elisha at Dothan. Elisha’s servant was frightened when he saw troops, horses and chariots everywhere. But Elisha told him, “Don’t be afraid! For there are more on our side than on theirs.” He prayed for his servant’s eyes to be opened and he saw the hillside around Elisha filled with horses and chariots of fire.
Then Elisha prayed for the Aramean army to be blinded so that they could not recognize him. He then led the army to the king of Israel. Instead of having a “monkey mind” like the king of Israel who wanted to kill the soldiers, Elisha demonstrated the compassion of God and told the king of Israel to give them a great feast and send them home.1 Instead of looking only at our circumstances, we need to see beyond our circumstances in prayer. In solitude and silence we can pray to be aware of our “monkey minds” – the thoughts that take us captive and lead us to unloving actions.
In life, we will be tempted to lose our faith in God when we encounter suffering which seems meaningless. In days when life appears hopeless, when there are no answers or conclusions to the pain of life – we are tempted to try and change our circumstances in order to avoid changing ourselves.2 But it is in such times that we are to practice the power of biblical faith – that God is good, God can be trusted and God is actively involved in our lives.3
It is not our actions that are the problem but the attitudes and motives that direct our actions. Elisha did not call on the horses and chariots of fire to destroy the Aramean army. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus could have called for thousands of angels to protect him but he chose to be the Lamb of God to take away the sins of the world.4 Prayer is not asking God to get rid of our problems but opening our hearts and minds to the Holy Spirit so that He can reveal our sinful desires, ulterior motives and hidden agendas. The delights we crave for and the desires of our heart drive our choices in life.
Adam and Eve were led by their “monkey minds” to the delight of their eyes and the desire for wisdom to disobey God. They were deceived into thinking that knowledge will make them wise and powerful. But knowledge without love leads to pride. Without the power of love, the knowledge of evil fills us with fear and guilt. For it is the fear of the Lord that is the beginning of wisdom. Like Adam and Eve we are blind to the truth that when we delight in the Lord, He will give us the desires of our hearts.5
Good actions from wrong motives are just as bad as wrong actions from godly motives. In the wilderness, Satan tempted Jesus to throw himself down from the highest point of the Temple to prove that God will order his angels to protect him and hold him up with their hands.6 Saul (before he became Paul) was driven by the mistaken zeal to do God’s will to persecute the early Christians. Dietrich Bonhoeffer draws attention to the danger of seeking an ideal church:
“Those who love their dream of a Christian community more than the Christian community itself become destroyers of that Christian community even though their personal intentions may be ever so honest, earnest and sacrificial.”7
The COVID-19 pandemic turned the world upside down. It was the beginning of a new age in the history of humankind. It was a time when people were forced into isolation through the lockdown measures. It was a time when the deepest desires of our hearts were revealed. It was a golden opportunity for true followers of Christ to experience the joy of solitude by spending time with God through silence. Only then can we have good actions from godly motives that will bear the fruit of compassion.
Solitude leads to community when we learn to meditate in silence together. We are drawn together in true community as we invite the Holy Spirit to bind us together in love. When we offer ourselves as living sacrifices to transform our “monkey minds” to the mind of Christ we will not love the world nor conform to the world.8 We will be set free from the craving for physical pleasure, the craving for everything we see and pride in our achievements and possessions.9
I need to rewire my mind with God’s covenant promises so that I can see the glimpses of truth that will set me free from my monkey mind:
“Open my eyes, that I may see
Glimpses of truth thou hast for me;
Place in my hands the wonderful key
That shall unclasp and set me free
Silently now I wait for thee
Ready, my God, thy will to see
Open my eyes, illumine me, Spirit divine!”10
Lord, open my eyes and reset my mind so that I may be set free from my “monkey mind.”
- How does the monkey mind affect my actions in daily life?
- What keeps me from seeing God’s providence in my life?
- What causes me to lose sight of God’s covenant promises?
Song of Praise
Open My Eyes That I May See
- 2 Kings 6: 8-23, NLT
- Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation, 19th August, 2022
- Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation, 21st August,2022
- Matthew 26:52-54, NLT
- Psalms 37:4
- Matthew 4:6, NLT
- Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together: Prayerbook of the Bible (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1995) page 36
- Romans 12:1-2
- 1 John 2:15-17, NLT
- Open My Eyes That I May See, Clara, H. Scott