Luke 6:37 “Forgive and ye shall be forgiven.” (KJV)
There is a fairy tale about a princess who could not sleep because there was a pea under her mattress. Many additional layers of padding were added, but she was such a tender thing that the pea had to be removed before she could fall asleep.
This story contains a spiritual lesson. Each of us can recall times when we have been treated unfairly. We have suffered from the unkind acts and thoughtless words of others. We have been hurt. These incidents are “peas of the past” that occupy our thoughts and energy. They continue to irritate us and interfere with our ability to find joy in our Christian living. They hinder us from having God’s peace and serving Him effectively. They may have been placed under our mattress many years ago, or it may have been just last week, but they are real.
Without God, we try to deal with these peas by indulging in a pity party reminding ourselves that we are the victims. Through selective memory we rationalize our actions and place all the blame on others. Then we mentally and verbally lash out at those who inflicted the pain, wondering why God does not punish them. When we try to move on with our lives we discover the peas are still there as debilitating as ever.
No matter how we rearrange the past to assign all the blame to others, these lumps will remain until we follow God’s pea-removal plan. We must forgive those who hurt us (Matthew 18:21-22). Jesus linked the receiving of forgiveness with the giving of forgiveness (Luke 6:37). Until we follow the Father’s example of forgiving we will continue to suffer from the “peas of past” (Luke 15:11-24).
Such forgiveness is not easy. We have to give up some rights. We have to surrender the right to be a victim. We must give up the right to punish and allow God to handle that chore (Romans 12:19). We must pray for people we don’t really want to pray for (Luke 6:28). We have to release the right to be right.
Such forgiveness goes against all we have been taught by society. When we feel it’s impossible we must remember that “I can do all things through Christ which strengths me” (Philippians 4:13).