Why You Should Refuse to Accept the Garbage

January 20, 2017
Emotional Hurt, Faith-based, Forgiveness, God's Love, Repentance, Restoration

God sees us as His growing children, and loves to assist our growth through this process. called “life.” He readily forgives our imperfections and restores us into His Fatherly fellowship.  A crucial component of this process is learning what to do with life’s “garbage.”

I enjoy sharing this story of an insightful event in Irving Berlin’s life that he calls “The Law of the Garbage Truck.” Have you heard it?

Irving recounted, “One day I hopped into a taxi and we took off for the airport. We were driving in the right lane when suddenly a black car pulled out of a parking space right in front of us. My taxi driver slammed on his brakes, skidded, and missed the other car by inches! The driver of the other car whipped his head around and started yelling at us. My driver just smiled and waved at the guy. My driver was really friendly.”

“So I asked, ‘Why did you do that? This guy almost ruined your car and sent us to the hospital!’”

“This is when my taxi driver taught me what I now call, ‘The Law of the Garbage Truck.’ He explained that many people are like garbage trucks. They run around full of garbage, full of frustration, full of anger, and full of disappointment. As their garbage piles up, they need a place to dump it and sometimes they’ll dump it on you!”

What do you do when someone dumps on you?

It’s likely you have been the recipient of someone’s “garbage,” and highly likely that it’s happened more than once. I venture to say, it’s also likely that you have done some dumping yourself that you may, or may not, have later regretted.

So, why am I sharing this garbage story with you? I’ve come to understand this journey through life is our opportunity to become more and more like our heavenly Father. When we respond to the influence of God’s fellowship, we are better equipped to interact with Him and with each other. Our interaction helps us grow and mature so we can more fully reflect and resemble His heart. When we learn to forgive like God forgives; we, like God, can be forgiving invitations for people to repent and enter this way of life.

Hence, as the taxi driver demonstrated so well, we do not want to take it personally when people dump on us. Rather than react, or retaliate, we want to just smile, wave, wish them well, and move on. We don’t want to accept their garbage, and spread it to other people at work, at home, or on the streets.

We want to forgive.

I’m finding that when we walk in the ways of God, we don’t let garbage trucks ruin our day. We are learning to love and routinely forgive even the people that tend to dump on us. We forgive, pray much for them, and we prefer to have garbage-free days!

Forgiveness is not an effort to excuse the offense or to receive some sort of restitution. When we forgive, we forgive the person, not the offense. First, we forgive because we’d rather not carry around the ill side effects (garbage), and secondly, we can be a godly influence to the offender.

When we forgive, we forgive the person, not the offense.

You may find yourself saying, “And how can I possibly forgive like that? The hurts I carry are much too big; the injustices have left scars far too deep.”

Yes, when offenses, insults and abuses come, they can create wounds that short circuit our well-being. Hurts can fester and cause us to be angry and bitter. However, when we dwell on offenses they can negatively affect our mental, emotional, and physical health. Carrying grievances creates emotional stress and anxieties, which can turn into physical disease. In fact, medical science has found that festering irritations cause many of the cancers that eat away at our health.

Why has my pain been perpetual and my wound incurable, refusing to be healed? (Jeremiah 15:18a)

For the heart of this people has become dull, and with their ears they scarcely hear, and they have closed their eyes; otherwise, they might see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart and return, and I would heal them (Acts 28:27).

The incurable wounds and perpetual pains we live with are destructive pits that we keep re-digging by not forgiving. When we do not forgive, we insanely choose to be hurt over and over by ill side effects of an offense.

When we do not forgive, we insanely choose to be hurt over and over by ill side effects of an offense.

Conversely, when we forgive those who brought us abuse, we invite the Great Healer to come and root out of us the irritations that eat away at our emotional and physical health. Forgiving is not an option for those who walk in the ways of God; it is a necessity.

We must consciously choose to forgive again and again.

When old offenses have festered for a long time, repetitive efforts to forgive are usually necessary before the irritations we carry are fully uprooted. Each time an offense is remembered, we should forgive until we are totally free of any anger or bitterness. We must consciously choose to forgive again and again until forgiveness has freed us of all ill side effects.

We will know our forgiveness is complete when we can remember the incident without feeling bitter or angry; when we can sincerely pray that God will bless the offender. As we become seasoned forgivers, fresh offenses and potential irritations are even diverted from causing damage, much like water is repelled off the well-known duck’s back.

As forgiveness is God’s invitation for us to repent and change our ways, so our forgiveness of others becomes an invitation for them to repent and change. While some are so caught up in their erroneous experience that their mistakes are habitual, we can still be an example of God’s forgiving grace.

We do not want to be held captive in their mess by not forgiving them.

To be a forgiver, we must change our fundamental way of thinking and dismiss our natural tendency to condemn. Everyone makes mistakes; it is a part of life, a part of our growing and developing process. It is also important to realize that our personal attitude toward people is different from that of governing authorities. The government is authorized, even by God, to guard, protect and even punish for the safety of the group. We, however, are charged with guarding the attitude of our own heart.

Maintain and walk in forgiveness by becoming forgivers.

Let’s remember these two keys:
1) We receive forgiveness by repenting.
2) We maintain and walk in forgiveness by becoming forgivers.
No one can reflect and resemble God very well without following His forgiving lead. God instructs us to learn to forgive one another just like He does, freely and without reserve. Forgivers, like the taxi driver, tend to remain garbage free.

As we learn to be repentant and forgiving, we allow the reality of God’s governing reign to have more influence on our life. As we walk in close relationship with God, He enables us to become the forgiving people He intends us to be…one step at a time.

It’s such an amazing gift that God readily forgives our imperfect growth process and restores us into His Fatherly fellowship. Let’s walk in restoration by being forgivers, refusing to receive and spread garbage. In this case, the well-known saying, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure” is simply not true.

From The Christ Culture by Keith Carroll, Relational Gospel Founder

The Christ Culture, A Way of Life Like No Other

Resources to help

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