The Blind Men and the Elephant

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The Blind Men and the Elephant

- Ron Stullenbarger -

“And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments of the LORD and His statutes which I command you today for your good?” (Deuteronomy 10:12-13)

There is an old story about four blind men who encountered an elephant. One man placed his hands on the elephant’s thick leg. “An elephant is like a tree,” he announced, “thick and strong.” Another man gripped one of the elephant’s ears in his hands. “No, my friend,” he said. “An elephant is like a great palm leaf, thin and flexible.” A third man grabbed the animal by the tail. “You are both wrong,” he said. “An elephant is like a rope, long and lean.” The fourth blind man leaned against the elephant’s massive body. “You are all as stupid as you are blind,” he said. “An elephant is none of those things. It is strong and hard, like a mighty wall.”

Those four blind men are like you and me in our efforts to learn right from wrong. You may have already discovered that no two people have the same ideas of right and wrong. No one can seem to agree on what’s good and what’s evil. Some people say, “It’s wrong to do that,” and others respond, “No, it’s wrong to say that’s wrong; it’s really right.”

That’s because we’re all like those blind men. Each of us can only see a small part of the picture. We can’t see the future. We can’t even see very well in the present. We don’t know all the effects our words and actions can have. It would be much easier for a blind man to describe an elephant than it would be for any one of us to see good and evil clearly.

Imagine if someone with perfect sight were to come along and discover those blind men arguing about what an elephant looks like. That person could tell them what an elephant really looks like. They might not believe him, but if they listened, his description would make sense out of their different experiences and perspectives.

That’s what God’s Word does for us. He tells us what things are right and what things are wrong. And he can do that, of course, because (unlike us) he sees everything clearly and knows everything completely. We may choose not to believe Him, but if we will listen to Him and obey what He says, we’ll discover that we can trust God’s view of right and wrong— because it’s right!

Do you usually act as if you know more than God or as if God knows more than you do? How does a person act if he or she trusts God’s view of right and wrong?

We need to pray: “God, I know that you see everything clearly and know everything completely. Help me remember to trust you to tell me what’s right and wrong and to obey what you say.”

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