Monkey See, Monkey Do

A standard rule of parenting is, “Do as I say.”   Obedience is one the most important things a parent can teach a child.  But by far the most important standard of parenting is, “Do as I do.”  What parents do while their children are watching is far more important than anything, they tell the child to do because actions speak a far louder volume than words.  Saying one thing and doing another is hypocrisy. Teaching a child to obey what you say and living out the very things you ask of your child are two very completely different things. One teaches your child you are good for your word. The other does not.

Why does this matter you may ask? Because other people and the world have a profound influence on us and the choices we make. Growing up, when asked by my father why I had done something, and usually it was something stupid, often my reply was, “Because so and so was doing it.”  His response was nearly always, “Monkey see, monkey do.  If they jumped off a bridge would you jump off too?”  Bet you’ve never heard that before, or said it yourself.  Roll of the eyes. But Dad was right, other people have a powerful influence on the choices we make.  The most influential people in a child’s life are typically are parents first and foremost, then siblings, other close relatives, classmates, teachers, the culture we live in, our coworkers and spouses.  Did I trust my father and mother, absolutely.  Why?  Because I knew them,  and because the large majority of the time, they did what they said and asked of me.   Did I obey them?  Some of the time. Did I watch how they lived their lives, you bet I did.

In addition to being influenced, we are also influencers.  I watched my parents and my kids watched me. We don’t live life in a vacuum and we are constantly watching others and others are constantly watching us.  Let that penetrate your mind and heart for a minute or two. In that case, we better get it right on both sides of the aisle, because this is powerful, life-changing stuff.  With potential for both for good and for bad.

At first, as a young adult I was a real moron.  I promptly went out and did exactly the opposite of what I was supposed to do.   Because that is what we humans do. We rebel. We cannot escape it because rebellion is hard wired in our DNA.  And there is a name for it, sin.  And the result of my willful disobedience was to promptly fall flat on my face, because in the end you cannot escape the entailments of sin.  The good news is my parent’s legacy of faith they instilled and modeled to me and had a lasting effect and I had it to come back to when life became unmanageable.  Why does this matter?   Not because it makes anyone holier than thou, but because it’s not enough just to believe God exists.  Christianity is no theory; it must be lived. And it requires obedience, obedience that Jesus himself modeled for us.

A standard rule of being a child of God is doing as he says and more importantly as he does.  What he says and has already done is given to us in his Word, the Holy Bible.  Obedience is one the most important aspects being a follower of Jesus Christ. Christ is to be trusted first and obeyed next; we can’t be hearers of his Word only; we must be doers as well.  In the here and now. Here and now I have to pray for my enemies; bless those who curse me; deny my own selfish, self-centered, self-absorbed wants, need and desires and do what he calls me to do.   To be humble, not a bragger. Serve others and share what I have received. Monkey see, monkey do. Jesus promised me (and all who desire relationship with him) if we seek him, we will find him. And he will give to us his Holy Spirit to live in us when we make him Lord of our life to aid us in being transformed into his likeness.  Cause I. Can’t. In. And. Of. Myself.  Self-reliance will fail me every time. Obedience coupled with the Spirits aid never fails.

Obedience is not a great recruiting slogan, but it is life changing if and when you decide to surrender to him.  It shocks me how few Christians actually read and study the Bible on a regular basis in order to know God and his will for us. Far too many rely on the “cherry picking method” finding verses to suit our needs, rather than to step into the knowledge of the whole God story.   And therefore, I am not surprised at how many folks are misinformed and uninformed about what it actually says.  And does in us, when we give ourselves over to it’s truth.  Take for instance the common phrase “the angry God of the Old Testament.”  That’s not at all what I or many other well-respected scholars and theologians down through the ages read and see. (I am certainly not either a scholar or theologian, just in agreement with them).  God sets the standard for doing what he says he will do and being who he says he is.  What the Word tells us of is a loving, grace filled, slow to anger Creator God of second chances who lays out clear boundaries for those created in his image (that is you and me), who isn’t afraid to follow through with consequences and discipline, even when its hard and we don’t agree with it or like it. I also see the human race is a pack of mistake making, rebellious people he keeps loving,  so much so he shed his precious only Son’s blood to save. 

Because actions speak a far louder volume than words.  

Monkey see. Monkey do.    

Be joy filled always,

Christine Davis