The Problem with Holding on to Grudges
A grudge is "a strong, continued feeling of hostility or ill will against someone over a real or fancied grievance." (Webster).
Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking (slander), be put away from you, with all malice:
If we carry a grudge, it means we are unforgiving and unloving, leading us to bitterness, wrath, and hatred. Anger is the fuel from which grudges spring up and hatred is put into action. Grudges in a Christian's life are evidence that the old man is not “put off.” Colossians 3:8-9 ~ But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds. Grudges promote gossip and slander and the repeating of a matter is typical of a person who holds a grudge showing neither love or forgiveness.
Holding grudges can disrupt the unity of friends, family, and the church. Relating to the family, in the Parable of the Lost Son (Luke 15:25-30), the older son, symbolizes the Pharisee, the hypocritical religious person, who has no interest in repenting sinners. This son’s self-righteous behavior was more socially acceptable than the younger brother’s sinful debauched life, but was equally dishonoring to the father and also called for repentance.
When a grudge continues in the church and Christians continue to assemble under one roof, there is division. Such division dampens the enthusiasm and hinders the work. The closeness that should exist is destroyed. Sometimes the division is so bad one will leave and go elsewhere, and sometimes some will pull others off and begin a new congregation, not for need, but for the sake of a grudge. These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren (Proverbs 6:16,19).
A grudge means we are not committing things to the judgment of God. Some Christians want to know, “Must I forgive, if a person wrongs me and doesn't repent?” “Yes!” We must have a forgiving spirit no matter what the offense, and judgment must be committed to God. There is no room for grudges or bitterness in the Christian's life. Satan is looking for a gap in our life or opportunities to stir up anger, producing bitterness or a life long grudge. This violates the instructions given to us in Romans 12:17-21. We are not to repay evil for evil or take our own revenge, but we are to overcome evil with good. If it is at all possible, we are to live peaceable with all men, which does not always come, because it also depends on others’ attitudes and responses.
Harboring a grudge may mean that someone is not truly born of the Spirit of God. A Christian, bearing the name of Christ is to be like Him, having the same mind as Christ. While on the cross suffering for our sins, Christ said, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” We have noted that those who hold grudges have bitterness and hatred in their heart, they are unforgiving and unloving, they sometimes gossip and disrupt the unity of friends, family, the church, and they fail to submit to God's judgment. How can one violate so many commandments of God and claim the name of Christ?
Bearing grudges can rob us of happiness and steal the joy we are to have as Christians. How can one be joyful when he knows he is at odds with God and his fellowman? How can one who is a Christian be at peace when he fails to be Christ like? I rather think that some who bear grudges and say they are happy are only pretending, and they can pretend only so long before true feelings erupt. We are to be imitators of God as His dear children and walk in love as Christ also loved us––––the supreme example of self-sacrificing love for sinners (Ephesians 5:1-3).
Conclusion: What do I do now? Each one of us needs to look deep into our own heart and ask, "Is it I, Lord?" Take a good look around you, does the sight of someone bring hostile feelings to the surface? Do you avoid someone just to keep from having to speak to them? Can you think of others that are not here for which you have these emotions and treat them in this fashion? You need to rid yourself of any grudges you bear while there is time.
Jesus did not hold a grudge against those who crucified Him, nor does He hold a grudge against you now. God's instructions are given to help you rid yourself of grudges or to prevent them from being carried out. To put off the old man is a picture of stripping away the filthy old clothes and putting on the righteousness of Christ, the new man. The renewal of the mind in salvation brings a transformation from the old life to the new (Ephesians 4:22)! We are to put off, lay aside or lay down the old man and be renewed in the spirit of our minds portraying a loving, tender heart––-forgiving one another.
My friend, lay aside the grudges that steel your joy and with the mind of Christ, forgive, press forward, and forget those things that will hinder you from spiritually maturing as you walk in the love of Christ.
And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.
Be ye therefore followers (imitators) of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.
Read Matthew 18:21-35 and Matthew 5:21-26