One of the most brutal and deadly practices of the Roman Empire was it’s treatment of condemned criminals. Those who had committed crimes against the empire were brutalized by being nailed, naked to a cross for all to ridicule, spit on and mock. However there was still one punishment which was reserved for the worst of the worst which is almost unimaginable for us to think about. Those people who were especially hated for their crimes were sentenced to carry around “dead weight”.
This term has come down through the generations and to us it means to carry that which has no benefit or purpose and actually causes harm. However, to the Romans the term referred to practice of strapping a dead body to a criminal. They were forced to live out there last few weeks in a walking punishment by carrying a maggot infested corpse strapped to their bare back. During the process of decomposition it slowly leaked poisons into the criminal making them sicker and sicker until they finally died a very slow, painful, stench filled death.
Why would I bring up such a disgusting thing? Because I meet people almost daily who unknowingly have “dead weight” strapped to their backs, and for them it’s a normal way of life. I know those who carry bitterness, unforgiveness, resentment and a host of other rotting corpses around, all because of something someone said or did a month, ten years or half a lifetime ago. Over time these things have leaked their poison into them and I watch in unbelief as it bends them over in isolated pain and unsatisfied anger.
What about you? Is there something strapped to your back? Were you offended, hurt, rejected, ignored, betrayed or abused by someone yesterday or perhaps 40 years ago? Since then has life just not been right and every new day causes you to remember just how unfair things are? Do you live an unsatisfied life that is overrun by a need to see justice or vengeance? If this is you, then you are one of those who are carrying “dead weight” and it’s only a matter of time before it kills you. Though you don’t know it, the smell of rotting flesh is all around you and those closest to you know the effects of it all too well.
What’s the solution? It’s amazingly simple…. Forgive! No matter what the hurt, what the abuse, what the trauma inflicted upon you, just forgive.. LET IT GO! Once you make that simple decision, every piece of “dead weight” that is strapped to your back has to fall off. You may not believe it yet, but this is the greatest act of personal liberation anyone can ever give themselves. I think it’s time to ask ourselves, and those we really love, “what’s that strapped to your back?” Once we do, and we choose to forgive, we can walk in the only truth that has the power to set those in captivity free. That truth is found in what Jesus said, “forgive and you shall be forgiven”. Do yourself the greatest favor of all; forgive anyone who hurt you, then get cleaned up and go live your life to the fullest!