Like many others, I always enjoy visiting the primate exhibit whenever I go to the zoo. We find something about their playfulness and curiosity somewhat relatable when observing them – maybe too much. There is an ancient parable, “The Monkey’s Fist,” that we can probably relate to more than we would like to admit. In an attempt to catch a monkey, the native tribes would hollow out coconuts, fill them with bait, and then tether them to trees to lure monkeys. A monkey would come along, reach into the small opening of a coconut just big enough for his hand, and grab the bait. However, once his fist was full of the bait, the monkey could not get his hand out and free himself. The parable’s lesson for all of us is that the coconut was not the monkey’s downfall but rather the greedy unwillingness to let go of the bait.

Recently, my son and his wife were in need of a good, reliable car. They did months and months of research, maybe even to an unhealthy level, but they eventually settled on a new car. It was their first new car, and I was thrilled for them. They drove it up at Christmas time to show us and even allowed good-ole-dad to drive it a bit. It was a nice car. It had all the new technology and even had that new car smell – which I am convinced creates the desire to possess it. I started thinking maybe I should turn in my car and get something new. I didn’t “need” it, but mine doesn’t have all the new features or the new car smell. Finally, I came to my senses and opened my fist. My car is perfectly fine and is a blessing to me. That’s enough.

We live in a world where the culture places value on material possessions, and we often want our share – no matter the cost. We even stress about not having our share. We clutch our material possessions so tightly that it negatively affects our family, friends, future, and, most importantly, our faith. 

If we instead put our faith and trust in God that He will look after our needs, we can then focus on what really matters to us – our faith, family and future. We all hold onto something that ensnares us. We just need to open our hands and free ourselves. When we do so, we will find that God has far more for us than we can ever hold in our fists – and I am not talking about possessions.

“Where our treasure is, there your heart will be also.” – Matthew 6:21