I read that African hunters have a clever way of trapping monkeys. They slice a coconut in two and hollow it out. Then they place an orange inside the coconut and fasten the two halves of the shell together. Next they cut a hole in the outer shell just big enough for a monkey's hand to pass through. Finally, they secure the coconut to a tree with a rope, hide and wait.
Sooner or later, an unsuspecting monkey swings by, smells the delicious orange, and discovers its location inside the coconut. The monkey then slips its hand through the small hole, grabs the orange, and tries to pull it through the hole. Of course, the orange won't come out; it's too big for the hole.
The hunters approach. When the monkey sees the hunters coming to capture it, it should just let go of the orange and scamper away. But it doesn’t. And the hunters easily throw a net of the monkey and capture it.
Hold that image for a moment, a monkey with his hand inside a coconut clutching an orange.
Jesus tells us today that the Son of Man came to serve. At the Last Supper he gave an example of service by washing the apostles' feet.
Now imagine yourself trying to wash someone else’s feet, but one of your hands is, like the monkey’s, stuck inside a coconut holding on to an orange. That would make it very difficult to wash feet. Someone falls and you want to pick them up. But your hand is inside the coconut clutching an orange, and you can’t lift the person with only one hand. Someone needs a glass of water, but you cannot pour it because your one hand is inside a coconut clutching an orange.
So what is it that we need to get rid of in order to serve?
What are the obstacles in our heart?
Like the monkey with the orange, perhaps some of us are hanging on to unforgiveness. Now is the time to let itgo. The writer, Joan Lunden, said,
“Holdingon to anger, resentment and hurt only gives you tense muscles, a headache and a sore jaw from clenching your teeth. Forgiveness gives you back the laughter and the lightness in your life.”
Perhaps we are hanging on to gossip and a critical attitude? Jesus tells us, “Let it go.”Get rid of the beam in our own eye before we try to remove the speck out of our brother’s or sister’s eye.
Perhaps we are clinging tofear? Jesus says, “Let it go.” The apostles had a lot of fear. But then they heard Jesus’ words “Do not be afraid.” “I will be with you.” The presence of Jesus casts out fear.
Perhaps we are hanging on to worry? Jesus says, “Let itgo.” The wise Solomon once gave a prince a motto to help him in good times and in bad. The motto stated, “Even this shall pass away.” That wisdom enables us to let go of worry.
Maybe we are hanging on to prejudice? Jesus says, “Let it go.” It makes no sense to pray, “OurFather,”and then look down on any of the ethnic or racial groups that our Fatherhas created.
Maybe we are clinging to selfishness? Jesus says, “Letit go.” We can spend a lot of time pursuing self-interest before we realize that happiness is found by giving it to others. Winston Churchill stated,
"We make a living by what we get,
but we make a life by what we give."
Finally, we may be hanging on to a lot of useless things? Jesus says, “Let them go.” A friend of Socrates noticed him looking in awe at the items in a marketplace. The friend asked him why he came there since he never bought anything. And Socrates responded, “I am always amazed to see all the things that I don’t need.” (Socrates lived about 400 years before Jesus.)
We ask Jesus for the courage to let go of all the stuff that keeps us from serving others. Letting go gives us laughter and lightness in our life. Letting go opens us up to the joy that surpasses all understanding.
And we will be rich in the things that money can’t buy.
Finally these words from Patrick Henry:
"I have now disposed of all my property to my family. There is one thing more I wish I could give them and that is faith in Jesus Christ. If they had that and I had not given them a single shilling, they would have been rich; and if they had not that, and I had given them all the world, they would be poor indeed.”