Saying the Wrong Thing; Doing the Right Thing
by Rev. Joseph R. Reid
A Holy man had a parrot who used to say to everybody, “Watch out for the trap. Don’t sit on the trap.” Of course, he meant illusions of the world, the trap of greed, power, prestige, possessiveness, the trap of anger and violence. The Holy man used to say to his disciples, “Watch out for the trap. Don’t sit on the trap.” By and by the parrot also learned it. So whenever the Holy man would say it, the parrot would also repeat it, even louder. And the parrot would say, “Watch out for the trap! Don’t sit on the trap!” And everybody enjoyed it. One day by mistake, the cage of the parrot was left open, and he flew out of it. Everybody had started to love the parrot, so the Holy man and his disciples went all over the forest to search for him. When they were reaching deeper and deeper into the forest they heard the parrot saying, “Watch out for the trap! Don’t sit on the trap!” So they were very happy that he was there. So, following the direction of his voice, they reached him. And what did they see? They could not believe it: he was sitting on a trap with his legs caught. He was trapped – sitting on the trap he was continuously repeating, “Watch out for the trap! Don’t sit on the trap!”
Sometimes in life we keep on repeating things with our mouth that we don’t believe or know in our heart. Like the parrot we say things from our head but our heart is not there. In other words we say the right thing while doing the wrong thing. We need to reverse that.
There are three ways to do the right thing and stay focused on what we do and not on what we say. First by not living our life as a hypocrites, second by not committing spiritual suicide and third by making sure our “No” is authentic but doing the right thing anyway.
The problem is many of us who claim to know the right way are like parrots, we say “yes” to the Lord but do what we want to do. Spike Lee, the well- known producer and director’s third movie was entitled: “Do the Right Thing.” In the movie he highlights the many injustices in our society that outrage and could justify violence. He poses an important question, what is the right thing to do? His quotes Malcolm X and MLK Jr. in the closing sequence which leads me to ask, what is the right path to the Lord? In other words, do we say what’s right and do what’s wrong?
Let’s consider Jesus as He went into the Temple during Passover leading up to His crucifixion. Jesus is in full rebellion. He overturns tables and the seats of the money-changers and sellers of doves. The money was used to pay the clerics and the doves were used as sacrifices that ultimately benefited the high priest. They quickly question Jesus about His authority to do these things and His answer was the parable of the two sons. If you recall the story from the Bible, one son, when asked by the father to go to work in the vineyard said “No” but later changed his mind. The other son when asked to do the same thing said “Yes” and did not go. Jesus’ question to the priest was which son did the will of the father? Naturally they answered the first son. And here is where Jesus’ condemnation came clear. He said that tax collectors and prostitutes would enter the Kingdom of Heaven before the so-called religious people. In other words saying the right thing does not necessary mean we do it! Sometimes saying the wrong thing ultimately leads us to do the right thing and when we do the right thing for whatever reason, we receive the blessings of God.