In India, farmers had problems with monkeys stealing their crops so they designed a trap to catch them. They would tie a coconut to the side of a tree, cut a small hole inside the coconut and place a banana within the hole. When a monkey would smell the banana, it would stick its hand inside the hole to grab the fruit, but the hole was too small to let the monkey get both its hand and the banana out. Unwilling to let go of the banana, the monkey would stay in the same spot until it got caught.
In the same way, we can sometimes refuse to let go of things that are not good for us.
Here are five things that are not worth holding onto:
The need to always be right – We can be right with the facts but completely wrong in our attitude or in our timing. The Pharisees were technically right in bringing the woman caught in adultery to Jesus, but they were totally wrong in the heart behind the action. Here are some habits that can help us let go of our need to be right:
Holding our tongue – “Even a fool is thought wise when he holds his tongue” (Proverbs 17:28)
Seeking to understand before seeking to be understood – this will soften your heart toward others
Choosing our battles wisely – don’t major in minor issues
Being isolated – Elijah was alone in a cave in 1 Kings 19. Isolation tends to cause us to be delusional in our thinking as it did with Elijah. It also increases the likelihood of developing harmful habits and addictions. 1 John 1:7 gives us the motivation to come out of the cave of isolation. It says “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” As we spiritually connect with others, it will catalyze victory for us. Here are some ideas for how to let go of isolation:
Join others in a cause – move forward by partnering with others to make a difference
Be a part of a growth group – commit to a group of believers and regularly connect with a small group
Get help as needed – there is no shame in needing to see a counselor to address emotional and lifestyle problems
The need to keep things the way they are – Again, the Pharisees could not embrace Jesus and the new season he represented because they were more focused on preserving the past. The fear of change blocks many from being a part of what God is doing now. Here are some ways to increase the likelihood of embracing the good, new things in life:
Be willing to let others become more prominent than you – John the Baptist did this with Jesus, but King Saul refused to do so concerning David. The first was exalted and the second lost his kingdom.
Regularly ask the Holy Spirit this question: What are the new things You are doing? – Certainly, we don’t want to waver in commitments we have already made or in areas the Lord has spoken to us about previously, but we also do not want to get stuck in the past and miss the new thing God is doing.
Realize there will be times in our lives when we will need to do things that seem illogical to our human reasoning – If we only make decisions based on what might increase our popularity, finances, safety, or vocational success, we will miss some very important life-launching opportunities. We are not called to be realistic, we are called to be supernatural.
Wrong definitions of success – Success is not a goal to be attained, but it is a state of being. If we need anything outward to cause us to believe we are successful, then we really aren’t successful. Great leaders become successful in their beliefs before they become successful externally. Here are some keys to help you let go of wrong definitions of success:
Value inner success more than outer success – what is happening in us is ultimately more important than what is happening through us or around us.
Consume the Book of Proverbs – there are thirty-one chapters (one for each day of the month)
Preconceived ideas of what God is going to do – In 2 Kings 5, Namaan was angry because Elisha did not do what he expected in prescribing healing for his leprosy. The Pharisees (and pretty much everyone else) missed the Messiah because He did not come as expected. Here are some practices to help us let go of the preconceived idea mindset:
Adding hope to our faith – Hope is an overall optimistic attitude about the future based on the goodness and promises of God. If our ability to thrive in life is dependent on specific prayers being answered, then we will not experience the abundant life Jesus promised.
Studying biblical examples of supernatural, creative solutions – As we study the different kinds of miracles in the Bible, we will be stirred to expect God to come in creative, different ways.
Being objective about our first reaction to new revelation and new ways people seem to be getting breakthrough, especially if the reaction is negative – Many times I have been uncomfortable and troubled by something I have heard or seen in church, but later, I found out it had solid scriptural support.
Let’s not “monkey around” by holding on to things that restrict our victory and influence. Instead, let’s ask God to help us let go of the things we need to let go of.
For more on topics like this, listen to my podcast by clicking the link below.
Steve Backlund was a senior pastor for seventeen years before joining the team at Bethel Church in Redding, CA in 2008. Steve is a leader developer, joy activist, a revivalist teacher, and as Senior Associate Director, is a key part of the Global Legacy (a ministry of Bethel Church) leadership team. He travels extensively throughout the world encouraging churches and leaders and has authored a number of books.