A number of years ago I allowed something that at the time was really hurtful to bother me terribly. It was really against my nature to let anything get to me that deeply, but the fact is that it did. My poor and resentful attitude was affecting not only me and my family, but my friends and my church family as well. You see, the hurt had turned into a grudge and I didn’t even realize it. It wasn’t that I wanted to get even with the hurtful party … it was more like I didn’t want to have anything to do with them and I was somehow getting even by withdrawing from them. Perhaps you have experienced something like this yourself or you know someone who is going through such a situation right now. If so, then read on and if you think it worthwhile, then pass this link on to someone else.
First, for purpose of my discussion let’s define what I mean by a “harboring a grudge”. Webster defines a grudge as “a strong, continued feeling of hostility or ill will against someone over a real or fancied grievance.” A grudge results from the leftovers of an unforgiving heart. Harboring a grudge is a sign of a lack of love resulting in the sinful distortion of one’s character. A grudge can grow from an open confrontation or a quiet and/or private disagreement. Often times the one holding the grudge is the last one to realize they are doing so and oblivious to the fact that they are committing a sin.
At its worst, harboring a grudge can lead to bitterness, gossip, estrangement, slander and even hatred. At its best, harboring a grudge can lead to a lack of commitment, subversion of cooperation, undue negative influence on others … especially those who are weaker in the faith.
Scriptures (all KJV unless otherwise noted):
Here are a number of scriptures related to my discussion and reflection points:
- Ephesians 4:32 – “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”
- Colossians 3:13 – “Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.”
- 1 John 4:20-21 – “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.”
- 1 Corinthians 13:5 – Love “Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil.”
- Proverbs 10:18 – “He that hideth hatred with lying lips, and he that uttereth a slander, is a fool.”
- 1 Corinthians 8:11 –“And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died?”
- Proverbs 6:16,19 – “These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: … false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.”
- Other related scriptures: Proverbs 16:28; Proverbs 17:9; Luke 15:25-30; Romans.12:19; 1 Peter.2:23; 2 Corinthians 2:7
Each of us needs to look deep into our lives and hearts. We need to ask, “Is it I, Lord?” Look about you, does the sight of someone bring hostile feelings to the surface. Do you avoid someone just to keep from having to speak or wave? Are you quietly, but politely, not supporting something or someone because you may be secretly harboring a grudge? Is your family, your friends, or your church suffering because you are harboring a grudge?
Just as I had to do (and more than once I must admit), will you rid yourself of that grudge you are harboring while there is still time? The Bible teaches us that harboring a grudge is sinful and unhealthy. Recall these powerful scriptural examples as you seek forgiveness for harboring a grudge and God’s renewed guidance in your life:
- Joseph did not harbor a grudge nor retaliate against his jealous brothers for selling him into slavery. Instead, Joseph resettled his entire family in Goshen during an extreme famine in Canaan with the full favor of the Egyptian Pharaoh. (See Genesis 37-50).
- Jesus did not harbor a grudge against those who crucified Him, nor does he harbor a grudge against you. Instead, He paid the price for all of your sins on the cross of Calvary. (Romans 5:8 – “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”) Jesus conquered sin and death through His resurrection from the dead and has made it possible for those who receive Him as Savior to spend eternity with Him in His heaven. (John 1:12 – “But as many as received him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.”)
As I close this article, I am reminded of the second verse of Fannie Crosby’s powerful hymn:
I Am Thine, O Lord
Consecrate me now to Thy service, Lord, By the power of grace divine. Let my soul look up with a steadfast hope, And my will be lost in Thine.
If we are truly to fulfill His will for our lives, then we must seek His forgiveness and healing and rid ourselves of any grudge, whether secret or open.