Monkey See, Monkey Do
By Brenda Black
Ask a monkey. He'll tell you that the way people treat you affects the way you feel about yourself. In a study in 2003, researchers required monkeys to hand a small rock to them in order to receive a piece of food. Monkeys were happy to do this to get a piece of a cucumber. However, the bland vegetable became less enticing if one monkey saw another monkey getting a more delicious reward, like a grape, for doing the same job. The one who got the cucumber became very agitated, threw out the food, threw out the rock and eventually stopped performing at all.
Let's face it, there's a lot of monkey business in this world that shapes self-image and affects our behavior. Suppose you've worked hard on a project for years. Then, in one sweeping changing-of-the- guard, all your effort and sacrifice for the company is ignored while someone else gets undeserved credit and gladly takes the grape. You react by throwing rocks or tantrums and end up with a cumbersome attitude – all because another human dictated your worth.
If it is not matters of management and money, quite possibly personal value is determined by matters of the heart. After months of dinner dates and sharing your dreams with the one you believe could be “The One,” he or she decides their feelings aren't amorous. Instead of the joy that you've exuded of late, sorrow consumes your heart. Suddenly you see yourself as worthless instead of wonderful because some guy or girl didn't return your affections.
We may feel stressed, shirked, silenced, stupid, or insignificant depending on another's opinion. And those internalized assessments shape our self-image as well as our outward mannerisms. But are they justified.
“Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him; for God's temple is sacred, and you are that temple.
“Do not deceive yourselves. If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a 'fool' so that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God's sight. As it is written: 'He catches the wise in their craftiness'; and again, 'The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.' So then, no more boasting about men! All things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future – all are yours, and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God.
“So then, men ought to regard us as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the secret things of God. Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men's hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God.” (1 Corinthians 3:16-23, 4:1-5)
The Apostle Paul wasn't into monkey business. He understood the merit of a man is measured by the standards of God, not mere mortals. God sees us through the eyes of perfect love. He knows our flaws and failures. He believes in our abilities when we doubt them ourselves. He made us and bids us to draw our worth not in works but in the work he is doing in and through us.
The Lord esteems. The Lord encourages. The Lord enlightens. The Lord embraces. The Lord's opinion is accurate and fair. The world's opinion is fickle and fleeting. When you see yourself through the eyes of this world, you'll always feel defeated and never good enough. There is no room for jealousy or self-loathing when the Creator sees you as perfect. If you are a child of the King, walk with the understanding that you are loved. As you view yourself at the foot of the cross, the eyes of your soul reveal true worth. Stop swinging from the trees trying to win the favor of men. Kneel before the cross and find true value in the eyes of the King .