By the Waters of Babylon – Ps 137:1
One day, two monks were walking through the countryside. They were on their way to a neighboring village to help harvest the crops. As they walked, they spied a very old woman sitting on the side of the river. She was upset because there was no bridge, and she could not get across the river on her own.
The first monk kindly offered: “We will carry you across the river if you would like us to.”
“Thank you,” said the woman, and she accepted their help.
So, the two monks joined hands, lifted her between them, and carried her across the river. When they got to the other shore, they put her down and she went on her way gratefully.
After they had walked a mile or so, the second monk began to complain. “Look at my clothes,” he said, “They are filthy from carrying that old woman across the river. And my back still hurts from lifting her. I can feel it getting stiff.” The first monk just smiled and nodded his head.
A few more miles up the road, and the second monk griped again, “My back is hurting me so baldly, and it is all because we had to carry that silly woman across the river. I cannot go any further because of my pain!”
The first monk looked down at his partner, now lying on the ground moaning. “Have you ever wondered why I am not complaining?” asked the first monk. “Your back hurts because you are still carrying the woman. But, I let her down five miles ago.”
That’s what many of us are like in dealing with our families and friends. We are that second monk who cannot let go. We hold the pain of the past over our loved ones’ heads like a club. Or, when we want to get the upper hand, we remind them of the way in which they have offended us and of the burden which we still carry because of something they did or said years ago.
One of the standards of Christian behavior which Jesus set before us is the standard of forgiveness and mercy. It is imperative upon us to be able to forgive another person. Revenge is not a Christian virtue, And a significant part of that aspect of forgiveness is to be able to let go of the offense once it has been forgiven. Countless families have been broken to pieces by stored up anger and resentment. Countless friendships have been ended because the friends could not forgive and could not forget. Countless church communities have been damaged because people could not get rid of old conflicts and anger.
Christians who are dedicated to the principle of working for others cannot store up anger and resentment. A good adage to remember when dealing with our life together is this: “There is no limit to the amount of good you can do, as long as you do not care who gets the credit.”