Have you ever had a pebble in your shoe? From time to time I’ll be out hiking and a pebble flips up and lands in my boot. Of course, I could stay home and sit on the couch and avoid the possibility of getting a pebble in my boot, but then I’d miss out on so much enjoyment in life!
Instead, I choose to go out hiking and occasionally get a pebble in my boot. Sometimes, if I’m in a hurry, I try to ignore the pebble. And before I know it, this tiny particle of rock or twig is causing me to walk with a limp. This bothersome pebble is irritating, annoying and impairing my ability to walk and enjoy the beauty around me
So finally, I’ll stop, untie my boot and shake out the offending particle. And often I’m amazed at what a tiny particle of stone or bark it was that caused me so much discomfort! Why hadn’t I stopped to remove it sooner?
An offense by someone else can be like a pebble in our shoe. When someone offends us in some way, like that pebble in our shoe, it may take us by surprise. We didn’t mingle with others expecting to be offended, but in the context of relationships, such offenses are inevitable. With relationships we could also decide to stay home and sit on the couch to avoid the possibility of being hurt, but we’d miss out on a great deal of enjoyment in life.
Instead, we choose to go out and spend time with people and occasionally, someone offends us. Sometimes we try to carry the offense around with us, but before we know it, that offense—even if tiny—seems huge and begins to irritate and annoy us impairing our walk. We get so focused on the offense, that we can’t enjoy anyone or anything else around us! As someone has put it, “Harboring bitterness toward someone for an offense is like taking poison ourselves, but expecting the other person to die.”
So, where does the analogy go from here? How do we “shake the offending pebble out of our boot?” Just like the annoying pebble that lands in our boot, as soon as it falls in our boot, it becomes our responsibility to remove it. In the case of an offense, the way to remove that offense is to forgive.
Forgiveness is coming to our senses and realizing that we are the ones perpetuating our discomfort. Forgiving the offending person is how we remove that irritating pebble. Forgiving others is very Christ-like. It’s what Jesus does. Forgiving others brings relief and refreshment to us and expresses God’s grace and mercy to others. Forgiving others frees us, enabling us once again to enjoy life around us. When we finally forgive an offense, we wonder why we hadn’t stopped sooner to remove it!
“Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Colossians 3:13
How will you shake the “pebble” from your shoe today?