Tag Archives: sin

He Raises the Lame | Bible Gleanings – May 7-8, 2022

His dreadful condition made every passerby cover their eyes and whimper, “Lord, have mercy.” He was curled in a ball as he lay crippled on a dusty mat. He could not walk, limp, or even crawl. He was born lame—paralysis had arrested his body in the womb. And were it not for the sluggish rising of his chest and the stare of his sunken eyes, you would have assumed he was dead.

The man was the lame beggar whose story is told in the third chapter of Acts (3:1-10). His tragic story is really every sinner’s story. You are this man, too. He is a mirror image staring back at you. He is a visual of the pitiful spiritual condition in which we find ourselves before experiencing the lame-raising power of Jesus Christ.

You and I are born into the world afflicted with spiritual paralysis. We are incapable of running toward God, walking on the narrow way that leads to life, or even limping on the path of the godly (Romans 3:10-18). Sin has broken our spine and confined us to a mat of helplessness. And we are too weak and decrepit to lift ourselves on crutches of righteous works or religion. We need only to look in faith to the lame-raiser, the paralytic-healer—the Lord Jesus Christ—whose grace and power are sufficient to make us walk with God.

The saving power of Christ makes us leap from our crippled state with holy joy (Acts 3:8). Jesus raises us at our conversion so that we may walk the road of righteousness (Psalm 1:6). His all-sufficient grace sets us on our feet so we can run the heavenbound race with endurance (Heb. 12:1). His mercy pulls us up from the bed of sin so that we may stand in grace (Rom. 5:2). He strengthens our legs and limbs so that we may climb over walls of temptation and tribulation (Psalm 18:29).

There’s an old saying that reeks of hell’s smoke which says, “God helps those who help themselves.” But nothing could be further from the truth, for God helps those who cannot help themselves. Jesus raises spiritual paralytics who cannot raise themselves. And Jesus asks all those cursed by the crippling effects of sin: “Do you wish to get well?” (John 5:6). All who answer in the affirmative will receive the gospel cure from the Great Physician Himself, and they will discover that He raises the lame.

Bible Gleanings is a weekend devotional column, written for the Murray Ledger & Times in Calloway County, Kentucky. In the event that the column is not posted online, it is be posted for reading here.

Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie (Jack Russell), Aries (English Shepherd), and Dot (Bluetick Beagle).

Christ Alone | Bible Gleanings – March 26-27, 2022

We can only be saved by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone (Eph. 2:8-9). And here are seven reasons why:

(1) The chasm between man and God is too wide to be crossed by good works: “But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear” (Isaiah 59:2). The cross of Calvary is the only bridge across the canyon of separation: “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18a).

(2) The distance between sinful man and holy God is too long to be climbed by the ladder of law-keeping (Psalm 113:5-6). Only the God-man who can bring man to God: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

(3) The stain on man’s heart is too black to be scrubbed by self-righteousness: “Though you wash yourself with lye and use much soap, the stain of your guilt is still before me, declares the Lord GOD” (Jer. 2:22). The blood of Christ is the only fountain that washes off sin’s stain (1 John 1:7).

(4) The contamination of iniquity is too unremitting to be washed off by the waters of baptism: “Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots? Then also you can do good who are accustomed to do evil” (Jer. 13:23). Sinners need a grace-bought spiritual bath administered by God’s Spirit, “the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5b).

(5) The weight of sin is too heavy to be outweighed by righteous deeds: “For my iniquities have gone over my head; like a heavy burden, they are too heavy for me” (Psalm 38:4). The nail-scarred hands are the only hands that can cast your sins into the sea depths: “You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:19).

(6) The shackles of sin-bondage are too strong to be broken by “trying harder.” Only the Lord Jesus can “open the eyes that are blind, [and] bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness” (Isaiah 42:1).

(7) The gargantuan debt of sin is too great to be paid off by an offering: “For our iniquities have risen higher than our heads, and our guilt has mounted up to the heavens” (Ezra 9:6). Only the offering of Christ Himself is sufficient to pay your sin debt: “[He canceled] the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross” (Col. 2:14).

Friend, Christ alone saves—we come to Him empty-handed.

Bible Gleanings is a weekend devotional column, written for the Murray Ledger & Times in Calloway County, Kentucky. In the event that the column is not posted online, it is be posted for reading here.

Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie (Jack Russell), Aries (English Shepherd), and Dot (Bluetick Beagle).

Heart Transplant | Bible Gleanings – March 19-20, 2022

I am a walking miracle. I should not be alive today. Most people with my condition never pull through. Fortunately, I am one of the few people jerked away from death’s door thanks to a heart transplant that occurred at just the right time.

Impairments and limitations have plagued my life since the day I was born—all because of a bad heart. I couldn’t see or think clearly. My steps were always crooked. My diseased heart wrecked everything about me—and a new heart was what I needed above all.

The life-saving procedure happened in August of 2009, when I was just fifteen years-old. But it wasn’t in an operating room, and the operation was not performed by a surgeon. It was behind the shabby shed in my parents’ backyard, and the Savior of sinners executed the procedure. After hearing the gospel preached, I suddenly realized that my desperately wicked heart required conversion only Jesus Christ could provide. Kneeling in the dirt and in my soul, I turned to Christ in repentance and faith. “I have been wrong about everything,” I prayed. “Lord, forgive me. Please forgive me. I give my life to You.” And God’s promise came to pass: “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36:26).

Every sinner needs a spiritual heart transplant. The Lord must take His scalpel of grace to remove your old heart and implant a new one that loves Him (Jeremiah 24:7). Why? Because the heart of the human problem is the problem of the human heart. It is utterly infected by evil: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). The heart is responsible for all of your spiritual health problems. As Jesus said, “For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person” (Mark 7:21-23).

This soul-saving spiritual surgery is what God performs for every sinner saved by grace (Ephesians 2:8-9). Every Christian has a heart transplant story. Every believer in Christ is a walking miracle. Every follower of Jesus sings the words of Myron LeFevre’s hymn in their heart:

“Without Him, I could be dying,

Without Him, I’d be enslaved;

Without Him, life would be hopeless,

But with Jesus, thank God, I’m saved.”

Bible Gleanings is a weekend devotional column, written for the Murray Ledger & Times in Calloway County, Kentucky. In the event that the column is not posted online, it is be posted for reading here.

Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie (Jack Russell), Aries (English Shepherd), and Dot (Bluetick Beagle).

A Free Offer | Bible Gleanings – Feb 12-13, 2022

In addition to receiving monthly bills in the mail, I also get a half-pound bundle of useless vouchers and coupons I never redeem. Limited-time cable and internet bargains, special fast-food discounts, and a membership form for AARP are all included in the colorful paper clump. The real prize lies buried within: a slew of slips emblazoned with the words, “FREE OFFER INSIDE.” And the offers are absolutely irresistible: a $100,000 life insurance policy for only $3 a month, a $200 gift card for a cable service that goes out when a raindrop hits the roof, and a free tank of gas when you purchase a truck with the low price tag of $50,000! 

However, if you read the fine print, you’ll find that the “free” offers aren’t actually free. There are always caveats and strings attached. And besides, none of the offers truly deliver on their claims. Fortunately, there is one free offer that is truly free. It always delivers on its promises, and it is clear of any belying fine print. It is not found in the mailboxes of every street, but it is offered to the heart of every sinner. And I found it, not when I opened a discount mailer, but when I opened my Bible, which says:

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16).

God’s offer of everlasting life is free for all. You cannot buy it with an offering and you cannot earn it through good works (cf. Acts 8:20). Jesus purchased it in full by His atoning death, so you don’t have to (Eph. 1:7). That is why Paul declared, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Eph. 2:8-9).

Furthermore, there is no small print excluding anyone from the offer of forgiveness and eternal life. Salvation is for every tongue, class, and culture. God doesn’t pass you by because of how you look or where you come from. Every person of every race stands condemned before the bench of His righteousness, and every person is invited and commanded to be made righteous through faith in Jesus Christ alone (Romans 3:22-23; 10:12-13).

Friend, this is an offer you can’t refuse. Reach out your hands and accept it by repenting of your sins and trusting wholly in Christ for your salvation (Acts 17:30; Gal. 2:16). And do so now while the offer still stands: “Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near” (Isaiah 55:6).

Bible Gleanings is a weekend devotional column, written for the Murray Ledger & Times in Calloway County, Kentucky. In the event that the column is not posted online, it is be posted for reading here.

Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie (Jack Russell), Aries (English Shepherd), and Dot (Bluetick Beagle).

When You Steal the Turkey | Bible Gleanings – Oct 30-31, 2021

I could hear the plate being nudged and licked from the next room. Instantly, I knew who produced the eating noises because the suspect was a repeat offender. “Hey! Are you back on the counter again?!” Knowing she was caught red-handed, the guilty beagle hurried forward with her head bowed in shame. The little scalawag had swiped my entire turkey sandwich off the counter.

I have often wondered why she behaves this way. I understand the theft of my turkey club, but why does she always run to me in servility when she’s in trouble? Apparently, dogs do this as a sign of submission. According to zoological research, dogs will frequently lie down, lower their gaze, and bow with guilty eyes to convey, “I was wrong, and I am sorry.” Such humility is an innate habit that dates back to their wolf ancestors. They are demonstrating that they have transgressed the leader of the pack—you.

Mark that down as yet another reason why dogs are better than humans, because we do precisely the opposite when we steal the turkey. When we sin against God, our wicked instinct is to flee from Him rather than run to Him. We seldom ever confess our wrongdoing immediately after grasping something that God has purposely placed out of our reach.

We all suffer from “Jonah syndrome,” in which we strive to stay as far away from God as possible. If there’s a Tarshish-bound ship rowing away from His presence, we’ll pay the ticket and come aboard (Jonah 1:3). Such rebellion and resistance dates back to our human ancestors, Adam and Eve. When they sinned in the Garden, they made a hasty exit from the presence of the Lord: “And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden” (Genesis 3:8). 

However, the right response to transgressing God’s divine law ought to be submission to His authority and confession of wrongdoing. We ought to rush into God’s presence saying, “I was wrong, and I am sorry,” especially if we possess a new nature through faith in the “last Adam” (1 Cor. 15:45). When we “steal the turkey,” we ought to pray with King David:

“For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned and done what is evil in Your sight, so that You may be justified in Your words and blameless in Your judgment” (Psalm 51:3-4).


Bible Gleanings is a weekend devotional column, written for the Murray Ledger & Times in Calloway County, Kentucky. In the event that the column is not posted online, it is be posted for reading here.
Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie (Jack Russell), Aries (English shepherd), and Dot (beagle).

The Grime of Sin | Bible Gleanings – Sept 18-19, 2021

The sidewalk was caked in stubbly greenish lichen. Decades of black algae enveloped each concrete step. My pressure washer was up to snuff, and the icky gunk peeled off without a fight. Sandy white steps now sat beside grimy ones, and a friend remarked, “I didn’t realize how nasty they were until now!” The muck didn’t seem so bad when all the steps were buried in grime. The depth of the filth was only evident when compared to the speckless and sparkling steps beside them.

We don’t seem all that bad when compared to supposedly more wretched sinners. Our grimy sins don’t seem that horrible measured against the unfathomable sins committed by others who appear to be more depraved than we are. None of us have mass-murdered millions of people the way Hitler, Stalin, or Mussolini did. Who among us has a gangster or drug-trafficking background like Al Capone or Pablo Escobar? Who among us, like Jim Jones or Charles Manson, has formed a cult?

However, such worthless comparisons will only deceive. The truth is that we are all buried in the vile muck of evil. We are sin-aholics—slaves of darkness who can’t seem to get enough of it. We are darkness-lovers and light-haters; rotten to the core and contaminated by sin’s putridity (John 3:19; Psalm 14:1-3; Romans 1:18-31; 2:1; 3:10-18, 23). And we can only grasp the seriousness of our sinfulness when we compare ourselves to the sinless and spotless Savior, Jesus Christ.

The depth of our depravity becomes apparent when we measure ourselves against the untainted righteousness of the Lord Jesus. Our garments are soiled—His robes are white without a speck (Isaiah 64:6). We have the scarlet stain of sin on our hands—He is wholly unstained (Isaiah 1:15; 59:3). Our eyes are fixed on evil—His are immaculately pure (Habakkuk 1:13). We are enchanted by sin’s darkness, but, “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5).

Fortunately for you and me, Christ is up to the task—He will thoroughly wash us of sin’s sludge. His blood erases the stain of evil (1 John 1:7). His Spirit detoxifies us from the filth of sin (Titus 3:5). His grace scrubs the guilt of our wickedness away (Jeremiah 33:8).

Therefore, come in repentance and faith to Jesus Christ—just as you are—begrimed and bedraggled by the mire of sin. Turn away from the foul path of spiritual filth toward Jesus, believing that His blood can wash you. When you do, God says to you, “You will walk with Me in white!” (Revelation 3:4).

Bible Gleanings is a weekend devotional column, written for the Murray Ledger & Times in Calloway County, Kentucky. In the event that the column is not posted online, it is be posted for reading here.

Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie (Jack Russell), Aries (English Shepherd), and Dot (Bluetick Beagle).

Abolishing Anger | Bible Gleanings – June 12-13, 2021

You’re a wild animal, and that’s why you get angry. That is the answer to anger according to Doug Fields, an acclaimed neuroscientist and author of several five-star books on mental health. “The human brain is hardwired for explosive violence,” he wrote. “We evolved [such] neural circuits for survival in the wild. We still need them.” The scientific world would have us believe that rage is a survival trait, embedded within us because of evolution. We breathe out hateful words, curse at slow traffic, and snap in fury because of human nature.

Well, the science is not entirely wrong, for even Scripture attests that we sin in anger because of human nature—sin nature, that is. Anger is not an animalistic evolutionary trait acquired from ancient ancestors, however. The reason for our bitterness, clamor, and rage is the evil nature inherited from our first parents, the first sinners—Adam and Eve. According to Jesus, we erupt in fury because of our sinful hearts (Matthew 5:21-22; Mark 7:20-23). You burn with resentment and blow up in madness thanks to your wicked nature, the flesh (Galatians 5:19-21).

The Bible is not silent on the serious repercussions of such uncontrolled anger. A blazing temper leads to many other sins: “A man of wrath stirs up strife, and one given to anger causes much transgression” (Prov. 29:22). Anger leaves you defenseless against spiritual attack: “A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls” (Prov. 25:28). Angry outbursts result in regrettably foolish behavior: “A man of quick temper acts foolishly, and a man of evil devices is hated” (Prov. 14:17). Angry tantrums make you look like a fool: “Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly” (Prov. 14:29).

To be sure, some anger is justified and completely natural. Righteous indignation is good. God is angry with the wicked every day (Psalm 7:11). Jesus felt angry to the point of flipping tables when He learned that the temple became a wicked bazaar (Mark 11:15-19). And if you love and fear the Lord, you will hate evil (Psalm 97:10; Prov. 8:13).

However, anger must be properly dealt with to prevent a sinful outburst. And Scripture’s solution to anger is twofold: slow down and settle it.

First, slow down: “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (James 1:19-20). Take a breather. Pray. And think before you speak.

Secondly, settle it: “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil” (Eph. 4:26-27). Abolish anger immediately, before the day ends. God will give the grace necessary to overcome anger if you earnestly seek it.


  1. Fields, Doug. “The Science of Why People ‘Snap’ in Anger.” Time Magazine, Vol. 187, No. 2, January 25, 2016, page number unknown (it got cut off in printing). URL: https://time.com/4180286/the-science-of-why-people-snap-in-anger/

Bible Gleanings is a weekend devotional column, written for the Murray Ledger & Times in Calloway County, Kentucky. In the event that the column is not posted online, it is be posted for reading here.
Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie (Jack Russell), Aries (English shepherd), and Dot (beagle).

Beat the Heat | Bible Gleanings – June 5-6, 2021

Beat the Heat

I would say we were crying for relief, but our bodies were too dehydrated to produce tears. The scorching sun spewed its wrath upon us as we hiked on trails desolate of shade. We sizzled like bacon in an iron skillet with every step on the preheated rocks. Although we guzzled water and paused for a break every half hour, the blistering heat convinced us that we had a fever.

We couldn’t sleep. We couldn’t eat. The boiling humidity evaporated every ounce of our strength, and all we wanted was one moment of cold refreshment. Fortunately for us, a nippy swimming hole lay only a few miles away. We dove into the rejuvenating oasis, rested on the surface a while, and swore off camping in the angry mid-July heat. 

You know how we felt if you’ve ever camped in the peak of summer or pushed yourself too hard in sultry weather. One man knew exactly how we felt: king David. He once wrote in the Psalms,

“Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer” (Psalm 32:1-4).

There is one difference between us and David, however. He wasn’t parched by summer’s searing heat waves because of a poorly planned camping trip. Instead, he felt the heat of God’s discipline sapping him of strength because he dealt poorly with his sin. 

He celebrates the blessedness and freedom of forgiveness, but acknowledges that he forfeited the enjoyment of such forgiveness because he failed to confess his sin. He kept quiet about it. He hid it inside. And his unconfessed sin caused the heavy hand of God’s fatherly discipline to come down upon him and drain him of all his vigor and joy, just as the torrid heat of summer dries up all your energy. 

I have felt the heat of God’s discipline. David felt the heat of God’s discipline. Have you?

The good news is that the discipline of the Lord is evidence that you truly belong to Him (Hebrews 12:7). However, the hand of the Lord will dry up your strength until you dive headfirst into the oasis of confession. The longer your sin remains unconfessed, the more God will vaporize your gladness and spiritual stamina. Crying out to God in confession is the only way to cease crying for relief. You must do as David in the following verse: “I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin” (v. 4).


Bible Gleanings is a weekend devotional column, written for the Murray Ledger & Times in Calloway County, Kentucky. In the event that the column is not posted online, it is be posted for reading here.

Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie (Jack Russell), Aries (English shepherd), and Dot (beagle).

Guilty Stains | Bible Gleanings – May 29-30, 2021

Guilty Stains

Once you are in the chair, they bring out the laser, pull the trigger, and a barrage of sizzling beams penetrate your skin. Remain calm—this is not what happens when aliens abduct you—they have to fight Tom Cruise first. This is the experience of thousands of people who have undergone the procedure of laser tattoo removal in order to eliminate unwanted tattoos. Since the commercialization of “Q-switched lasers” in the 1990s, dermatologists have made a fortune from people willing to foot the bill to have tattoos removed that they regret.

According to one study, 78% of tattooed individuals regret at least one of their tattoos. 31% regret getting inked because the tattoo is no longer relevant. An ex-girlfriend’s name was dotted on their chest, or a blue horseshoe was stamped on their arm when they were superfans of the Indianapolis Colts. About 5% are annoyed with their tattoos because they have a negative effect on their professional life. And 40% shake their heads because their tattoos were poorly done. Ironically, one fellow got a tattoo that read, “No Regerts.”

This is why many have turned to the laser to get them removed. After the scorching laser drills into the skin, the tattoo ink absorbs the heat and shatters into tiny fragments that eventually flush away with time. However, every dermatologist will admit that some tattoos will never fully disappear, even with multiple laser treatments. In many cases, the laser is only powerful enough to fade or lighten tattoos. Some marks will never go away no matter how hard you try.

Whether or not you have tattoos, you are marked from head to toe by something that nothing on earth can remove: the guilty stain of sin. Because of the Fall, your heart and hands are blotched by the black ink of evil. And no amount of human effort can expunge the guilty imprint of sin upon you. A million-dollar offering to your church won’t burn it off. A fifty-year membership at the biggest church in town won’t eliminate it. A thousand gallons of baptism waters won’t wash it away. A hundred hours a year at the food pantry won’t erase the stain of sin on your soul either. As God Himself says, “Though you wash yourself with lye and use much soap, the stain of your guilt is still before me, declares the LORD GOD” (Jeremiah 2:22).

The blood of Jesus is the only efficient stain remover for sin. The word of God declares, “The blood of Jesus his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7b, KJV). As William Cowper wrote in 1771, “There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Emmanuel’s veins; and sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.” Plunge in by faith (Eph. 2:8-9), and receive total purification for your sins—you won’t regret it.


Bible Gleanings is a weekend devotional column, written for the Murray Ledger & Times in Calloway County, Kentucky. In the event that the column is not posted online, it is be posted for reading here.

Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie (Jack Russell), Aries (English Shepherd), and Dot (Bluetick Beagle).

Let It Go, Monkey | Bible Gleanings – April 24-25, 2021

Let It Go, Monkey

Monkeys may be smart but they are also selfish. That’s what African poachers have observed as they’ve lured and captured hundreds of unsuspecting primates in order to smuggle and sell them illegally. According to one wildlife conservation organization, about three-thousand chimpanzees, gorillas, bonobos, and orangutans are unlawfully seized or killed every year. And from Cameroon to Zimbabwe, these criminal hunters have discovered one fail proof method for snatching a monkey: taking advantage of the monkey’s greed.

Colorful and appealing items like bananas are placed inside the cages that poachers litter across monkey-populous rainforests and grasslands. Of course, this entices the monkeys, but they have become smart enough over time to know better than to enter the cages. Instead, they try to steal the bait from the outside. They reach inside through the bars, tighten their grip, and try everything from chewing to screaming in an attempt to seize the enticing object. However, trappers hiding nearby are well aware that their gnawing and squealing leads only to their capture, as the bait object is intentionally too large to pass through. The monkey is then hopelessly trapped by his refusal to let go. He remains enslaved as long as he has a death grip on the bait. If the monkey would learn to let go, he could avoid captivity and happily roam the jungle.

Unfortunately, it is our sinner-tendency to act like a monkey when it comes to forgiving others of their trespasses against us. Although Jesus directs us to forgive those who have wronged us (Matt. 6:14-15), our natural impulse is to clamp down on their offenses. We think to ourselves, “Until I feel you have repaid me for the wrong you’ve done, I will never let this go!” The worst part about it is we actually become sin’s monkey when we refuse to forgive. If you are withholding forgiveness from a wrongdoer in your life, you are the one in captivity. As long as you have a relentless grip on someone’s offense or debt, you will remain captured by the prison of unforgiveness. And what God wants you to do, for your own benefit, is let go. 

You might be thinking, “But I can’t forgive—I just can’t.” Can I tell you something surprising? You are absolutely right. The first step in forgiving someone is recognizing that you can’t do it on your own. Unforgiveness is part of your nature as sin’s monkey—forgiveness is contrary to it.

Therefore, what you need in order to forgive is something divine: the grace of God. It’s no surprise, then, that when Paul wrote to Philemon about forgiving his wrongdoer, Onesimus, he prayed first that God would grant him the grace to forgive: “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philemon 3).

Forgiveness is not something to monkey around with. If you don’t let go by God’s grace, unforgiveness will never let you go.


Bible Gleanings is a weekend devotional column, written for the Murray Ledger & Times in Calloway County, Kentucky. In the event that the column is not posted online, it is be posted for reading here.

Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie (Jack Russell), Aries (English Shepherd), and Dot (Bluetick Beagle).