They were just a bunch of boys, they knew each other, they chummed around together, and they knew their pecking order. At the bottom of that order was Jeff. He had little going for him. In the course of time the other boys called him “Monkey”. The name stuck. Jeff accepted that sobriquet without protest. There wasn't much he could do about. He was a quiet kid who smiled a lot.
Are there lessons in this little story? Yes, kids can be cruel. And kids can suffer more than their elders realize.
But this story has a sequel.
Some years ago I visited with an older pastor and in our conversation, we roamed around in the past a bit. And that's when he told me that, as a boy, he had been part of a group of boys and that there was one among them whom they called “Monkey” and that he had come up with that name which had stuck.
“Sometimes,” he said, “it still bothers me that we did that. And that I didn't help him. I don't know what became of Jeff. He was just a good kid. He handled his humiliation the best he could ...”
I thought about that conversation. After all these years this pastor remembered. Youth is not always a time of innocence. Sins of our youth can be real. They can cling to us through subsequent years... mistakes we made, unseemly things we did. The years never quite wiped out his regrets.
Interestingly, Psalm 25 refers to this kind of sin. In Verse 7, we read, “Remember not the sins of my youth...”
This implies two things. Upon confession there is forgiveness. Forgiveness blots out sins. Amazing that our great God actually can and will forget the sins of our past. Yes, the memory tends to come back but we may follow God and remember them no more.
And, of course, it also implies that the spiritual care which churches extend to their members should also, by design, include the children of the congregation. For kids come with their own inventory of experiences.