Do you have a grudge? Against someone, something, even against God? Universities don’t have classes on Grudges 101. Politics won’t solve this. It’s another one of those hideous, hellish, often fatal proclivities of human beings worldwide: to be naturally inclined to harbor and hold grudges. A grudge is the opposite of forgiveness and it’s a deadly sin. It’s even more deadly than many since it’s so often accepted and seen to be “just a part of life” by the vast majority of people everywhere.
The exact definition of “grudge” is: “a persistent feeling of ill will or resentment resulting from a past insult or injury.” Sound familiar? Well, it’s one of the most persistent, common maladies of our human condition and it’s damaging in the extreme. You can be a kid and have a grudge against your parents. You can have a grudge against anybody and anything: the way you are made, the family you were born into, mistreatment by your boss, your girlfriend, your teacher or God Himself.
Why is it so bad? Almost invariable it can quickly become the main thing in your heart, what so many of your thoughts revolve around and settle back to. The words of your mouth are tinged with hate and bitterness because of that grudge you’ve allowed to spring up in your heart.
“Mark, give us a break! You’re always saying stuff like this, always hard on people! You expect too much, Mark! Look, friend, the world is full of a– h—s. And I’m not going to let anybody treat me like they do. If I don’t do it to them first, they’ll do it to me! That’s just the way things are, Mark. Get a life!”
Is it safe to say that the majority of the world thinks like that? Probably. So what’s wrong with me? Why don’t I just accept that we live in a jungle where it’s “kill or be killed” and reacting to wrongs by accepting a hateful grudge to take over my soul and mind is just how things work in this world. “Get over it!”, like people say nowadays.
If there was no God, no Satan, no afterlife and no Savior, the man Christ Jesus, then that would I suppose be the only choice we have. But it isn’t. There is a God, there is an afterlife, and there is a judgment both in this world and the world to come for our words and deeds. And there is a Savior, the Man who went about everywhere doing good, Jesus of Nazareth. And one of the most important lessons He and the other men of God have taught us over the centuries was summed up well by King Solomon when he said, “Keep your heart with all diligence for out of it are the issues of life.” (Proverbs 4:23) I wrote a blog article on that verse, “Keep your heart.”
Think about it, how many murders are the result of what started out as a grudge? It’s likely the first murder was a result of jealousy and an accompanying grudge. Here’s what the Bible says about Cain killing Abel. “Not as Cain, who was of that evil one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil and his brother’s righteous.” (I John 3:12)
It doesn’t take much sense, if you have an inkling of the Spirit of God, to know that grudges are not the plant that the Lord wants us to let grow in our hearts. This is one of the worst of the “thorns that spring up” that Jesus talked about in Luke 8:7. It’s not just some little thing. It’s not something we can’t control. It’s not something that we need to understand and accept. Grudges bring virtually immediate darkness to your soul and heart. The fruits of the Spirit of God in our lives are “love, joy, peace, longsuffering gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.” (Galatians 5:22 & 23) But a grudge slays all of those very quickly.
“But, Mark, let me interrupt you again. Isn’t this just a case of mental health? Our modern world has moved on from these ancient, primative notions of “sin” and “the heart”. Don’t people just need our sympathy as well as mental health care to solve these things?”
No, it’s not a “mental health” issue. Science, in its place, is a great blessing. But when it tries to explain away the fallen nature of man and sanitize sin into something a doctor should treat, it then fulfills the words spoken about the future endtime to come that mankind would be “…ever learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth”. (II Timothy 3:7) Or, more bluntly, Paul said in another place, “…because they received not the love of the truth, God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie.” (II Thessalonians 2:10 & 11) Sadly how prevalent we see this happening more and more in our times as people let science supposedly explain away sin and so many other things that are to be spiritually discenred.
A grudge and bitterness walk hand in hand. Something has happened, someone did something that you don’t understand, that went against you and hurt your life and heart. And if we then don’t desperately pray and throw our will, mind and thoughts onto the side of the Lord, then we’ll not be able to forgive those who’ve wronged us or be able to “Commit your way unto the Lord, trust also in Him.” (Psalm 37:5)
Is there any hope? Like all sin, yes, there is hope. First, you have to recognize it and often that’s not even very easy since it seems to be so justifiable. God said to Jonah, “Do you do well to be angry?” To which Jonah snapped back to God, “I do well to be angry!” (Jonah 4: 4 & 9) So again, it comes back to being able to discern your own heart first. God’s Spirit is always faithful to convict us and bring the conviction that something is wrong inside us, even if it’s true that someone has wronged us, that our reaction is not right and the best.
But if we can recognize and accept the conviction of the Holy Spirit, we go to the next step which is, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1:9)
That’s the process by which we’re delivered from grudges. Confess it and pray strongly to be delivered from the deadly sin of grudges which will, and perhaps already has, snuffed out your spiritual life and brought you to utter darkness, though you are still alive.
Recognize it. Hate it. Resist it. Confess it to God and others if needed. And claim deliverance from this sin which is often unto death. God help us all.