I went back home to Ghana a few years ago and witnessed two brothers arguing over something that had happened between them decades before. They involved many family members as they carried the grudge through the years. This caused division as each family member rallied to support one of the brothers. I had the opportunity to sit in as family members ventured to settle the dispute. Suddenly, one of the offended brothers, in a heated cracked voice, said to the other, “What you did to me, I will never forgive you as long as I live.”
The Oxford Dictionary says a grudge is a persistent feeling of ill will or resentment resulting from a past insult or injury. Some hurts are hard to shake…even if you think you’ve forgiven the person that hurt you. Someone has wronged you, either purposefully or unknowingly (but they should have known better), and it still throws you off balance. It feels like there’s a debt to be paid to you. Although you’ve prayed, a bad taste remains when remembering the incident.
THREE SCENES YOU DON’T WANT TO EXPERIENCE
1) I hope I never have to see this person again. I know people who have left wonderful jobs because of a nasty coworker. I know others who have left churches because they don’t want to be near a believer who has hurt them. I know people who have moved out of state to avoid seeing a family member who is a constant sore spot in their life. C.S. Lewis wrote a short book called The Great Divorce. In it, a bus goes from hell to heaven with recently departed people onboard. When they disembark and see the beauty around them, they are glad to be away from hell’s nastiness. However, they meet people from their lives that they did not like. Many people did not want to stay in heaven because of who else was there. So they got back on the bus to hell. What if you got to heaven and were greeted by that very person that had hurt you? Would you get back on the bus? Would you question God as to how they got into heaven?
2) I have washed my hands of them. You are tired of having them trouble you. You may even have righteously separated yourself from the person by not participating in activities where they participate. Yet, have you said or thought something about them that wasn’t so righteous? Have you spoken about that person to others in a negative manner? What if you watched the devil quote your negative statements about them as he accuses that person before God in heaven, “Well, even your daughter Jane said….”? I don’t want to be part of any accusation of the devil! So why do we talk negatively about people, even if what we say is true? Don’t give the devil ammunition to take the people you have spoken to down with you.
3) I hope they realize how bad they were toward me. Have you ever asked God to show the offender all their sins? What if your offending person had to face everything they did against you? Wouldn’t you rather Jesus’ blood cover it? Or would you want to set Jesus’ blood aside so at least your offender had to be punished, even just a little? Watch how you pray! Could you face all your sin without becoming suicidal? Pray instead for God’s mercy for those who have offended you and release God’s grace to them.
Women are prone to grudges because we feel emotions in most situations of life, whether as subtle feelings or demonstrative expressions. If a woman has an overactive sense of justice, she can harbor multiple hurts in a short period of time and become depressed or overly angry. Have you ever accidentally yelled at your kids because you were slighted by someone of authority in your place of business? Have you ever felt like not cooking when you came home from a day when complaints seemed to come every hour? Others can easily pay the price for the emotional impact of a grudge.
AND THE SCRIPTURE SAYS… Women must keep guard to unload hurts quickly, so we do not hold grudges. However, when we embrace and nourish our hurts by adding remembrance upon remembrance, we affect ourselves and the people around us.
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:31-32 ESV)
Don’t be a woman of grudges; be a woman of God!