Author: Ron Graham

How to be Happy

Be a Donkey
—Learning from donkeys in the Bible

If we call someone a donkey, we probably don't mean it as a compliment. But the Bible encourages us to be donkeys in a most surprising sense.

1 A Donkey Redeemed

Exodus 13:13


Under the law of Moses, the firstborn of cattle and sheep were offered to God, but a donkey was redeemed with the sacrifice of a lamb (Exodus 34:19-20). If a donkey was not redeemed by a lamb, the donkey was not allowed to live. This is a type or symbol of redemption through Jesus, who is the Lamb of God (John 1:35-37).

So be a donkey. Be redeemed to eternal life by Jesus the Lamb (Ephesians 1:7, Revelation 21:27).

2 A Donkey with Wisdom

Numbers 22:21-34

The story of Balaam stars a donkey who understood what Balaam failed to understand, and saw what Balaam failed to see. Balaam stupidly whacked his riding donkey because she wouldn't go straight ahead. But the donkey saved Balaam’s life knowing that a warrior angel stood ahead ready to kill Balaam. The donkey even spoke to Balaam to reason with him.

Peter said the donkey was dumb (2Peter 2:16) but he meant that donkeys don't usually speak. Peter didn't mean that donkeys lack wisdom. The donkey was smarter than Balaam, when Balaam should have been at least as smart as the donkey.

So be a donkey. Be wise with the wisdom not of this world. Speak that wisdom to those who might listen. If they don't listen and perish, that's not your fault. However, if you don't speak out the wisdom of Christ, then that is your fault (1Corinthians 2:6-10).

3 A Donkey Serving Jesus

Zechariah 9:9

Jesus sat on a pure-bred donkey for his triumphal entry into Jerusalem (Matthew 21:1-11). Although serving as a lowly beast of burden, the donkey served Jesus. Thus the donkey received honor. Paul urges us to devote ourselves to the Lord "which is your reasonable service" (Romans 12:1-2). Pauk spoke of himself as a bondservant of Jesus Christ (Romans 1:1).

So be a donkey. Serve Jesus. It doesn't matter if the service isn't high prestige. A lowly service is an honor both to the servant and the Master.