A teacher struggled with knowing how to teach her kindergarten students to get along. It was so bad that she decided to let her class play a game. The children were instructed to bring to class the next day a plastic bag containing potatoes. Each potato was to be given the name of a person that the child did not like, so the number of potatoes each child carried in his sack varied and reflected the number and names of his enemies. Some had two potatoes, some three, while some others had up to five potatoes.
The children were required to carry the potatoes with them in the plastic bag wherever they went for one entire week.
At first the children thought it was fun carrying around these potatoes with names on them, but as the days passed by they tired of the game and began to get sick of carrying around their burdens, especially when an unpleasant aroma wafted from the plastic bag as their potatoes started to rot. There were many complaints, especially from the children who had to carry up to five potatoes, making their bags heavy. At the end of the week there was much relief when the game finally ended.
The teacher asked the children, “How did you feel while carrying the potatoes with you for one week?” The children shared their frustrations of the trouble that they had to go through carrying the heavy and smelly potatoes. Then the hidden meaning behind the game was told to the children.
She said, “Carrying rotten potatoes with you constantly is exactly what happens when you carry hatred for somebody inside your heart. The stench of hatred pollutes your heart as well as your body. You carry it with you wherever you go and it affects everything you do. If you cannot tolerate the smell of rotten potatoes for just one week, can you imagine what it is like to have the stench of hatred in your heart for your whole lifetime?”
We must throw out any hatred and evil thoughts we might be harboring in our hearts against anyone so that we do not carry the stench of anger for our whole lifetime. Carrying hatred causes grumpiness and anger and makes the one carrying it hard to get along with. As Jesus forgives us, we also are to forgive others.
Joseph’s brothers threw him into a pit and then sold him into slavery (Genesis 37). You can read all of the terrible things that happened to him, yet he never carried any anger or hatred. Though he was thrown into prison and falsely accused by Potipher’s wife, Joseph harbored no hatred, anger or revenge and was still able to happily help those around him in the prison, warming the hearts of all connected with him. Many years later when reunited with his brothers, though he had been treated so cruelly, he repaid them with forgiveness and compassion. There was not a hint of hatred in his heart.
Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:14, 15: “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
Sometimes it is very hard to forgive someone who has done or said something evil against you, but never let another person’s bad actions infect the peace you have available in Jesus.
Forgiveness may be something we give to other people, but it is really a gift to ourselves. Holding onto anger and unforgiveness destroys both health and happiness, causing wretchedness that no one enjoys being around. Each day brings new opportunities for us to forgive and forget.
God is willing to create a new heart and to renew a right spirit in all who ask Him and remove that root of bitterness that so many carry with them.