The Grinch of Holding a Grudge
Godliness with Contentment: Lev. 19:18: “ ‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.’”
Intro: Forgiveness is a big deal with Jesus. He gave his life so that we could receive the forgiveness of God for our sin. He paid our sin debt completely in his death.
Now he wants us to forgive those who hurt us. Let’s say the model prayer together:
Our Father who art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
And forgive us our trespasses
As we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen. (see Matthew 6:9-13; Luke 11:2-4)
Christmas is a time when we see the people that we have been avoiding. It’s harder to avoid them because the families are involved. They are gathering for time together. You may be dreading the Christmas gathering because you are holding a grudge against someone in the family. You just cannot forgive them for what they did.
The Grudge Begins with Trespass:
Jesus gave the prayer, and then he added this note: For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (Matt. 6:14-15).
- We are never quite sure what word to use when we get to that phrase, “Forgive us our trespasses.” The prayer in Matthew uses the term “debts” in the body of the prayer and “trespasses” in the two verses that follow. For that reason the most common rendition of the prayer says “trespasses.”
- But the account in Luke uses two different words in the prayer itself, “forgive us our sins” is the first phrase, and the second phrase is “as we forgive everyone who is indebted to us.” It switches words even though many of the translations do not.
The words for trespasses are synonyms. They can be used pretty much interchangeably. Each has its own nuance, though, its own shading.
- “Sin” is the word hamartia which means “to miss the mark,” or “to err or be mistaken.” We find the heart of this word in Romans 3:23: “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” The word “sinned” is explained by the second phrase: “come short of the glory of God.” We all miss the mark. We all come up short. We all sin.
- The word “debt” (opheilo) is something that we owe to another, something that has come due. “Be bound” is one way this word is translated. You are tethered to your house mortgage or your car note. You have a debt that you must pay every month. You also have a moral debt. You are indebted to God. There is a payment that must be made.
- The word “trespass” (paraptoma) means “to fall beside or near something,” or “to side-slip.” It’s like you are dribbling down the court and you step out of bounds. That’s a trespass.
- Two other words come to mind when talking about offenses in the New Testament. “Transgressions” involve breaking the boundary, crossing the line, and “iniquity” means twisting what is good into something evil. These also are sins.
We visit a core teaching of the Bible. We are all sinners. This is the only reason that the Grinch has a chance at stealing our joy and peace this Christmas.
- Our sin manifests itself in many ways including the attitudes we develop when we are betrayed or wounded by someone who is supposed to love us.
- Holding a grudge is a sin. We are commanded to forgive. This includes not just the small offenses that occur daily but the huge blasts we take from fellow human beings.
The Grudge Grows into Bitterness:
See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many (Hebrews 12:15).
The grudge lives. But it is not residing in the person who hurt you, whom you resent and wish ill toward. That grudge is residing in You. You are the host of the grudge—your brain, your emotions, your relationships, your heart. You host the grudge.
And the grudge is loose in you. It is not contained either to the person it is directed toward or to the compartment in your life where you have chosen to harbor it. The grudge seeps into all aspects of your life affecting your attitude toward yourself and others and God. It changes your vocabulary. It adjusts the focus of your life and your emotions.
- The grudge is loose in your family and in your friendship circles. Have you ever been with anyone so consumed by the grudge, so bitter, that they were unpleasant?
The grudge is poison. It is a virus that moves through your emotional and spiritual and relational circulatory system. It is cycling through your being, touching everything that is you. It is changing you, stunting you spiritually and emotionally, and it may be destroying good things in your life this very day.
- All sin stands against the love of neighbor that is our summary obligation before God.
- If love is the medicine that brings health to the soul, then the grudge is its opposite—the poison that brings sickness to soul.
- The grudge does not poison the person who hates you. It poisons you and the people closest to you.
The grudge is alienation.
- Jesus included it in the model prayer. He commented on it afterward. He is teaching us how much of a Grinch the grudge can be.
- He insists that a heart unprepared to forgive is a heart unprepared for forgiveness.
The Grudge Ends in Forgiveness:
Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you (Colossians 3:13)
Forgiveness is implemented in your life in several ways. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you (Matthew 5:44).
- Prayer. Jesus included forgiveness in the model prayer knowing that we would need to forgive someone every day.
- Pray for an end to the resentment or bitterness.
- Pray for the person who hurt you.
- Pray for the ability to love the offending person.
- Love. Jesus teaches us that we are to love our enemies. This is unusual love. It is amazing, startling love. And it is the kind of love that God gives us who were an enmity with him. When we love our enemies we are following the path that Jesus walked. We are growing and becoming more like him. We are not content to tolerate our enemies. We must love them.
- Good deeds: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21).
Forgiveness may be a process even more than an event.
- Some cancer can be healed by simple surgery. Cut off that spot and throw it away, and you are cured. I hope you can do a grudgechtomy and simply be done with it.
- Some cancer has to be bombarded over a period of time with powerful radiation or chemotherapy to defeat it. Sometimes the grudge we hold is just that entrenched in our minds and hearts. In this case, through love and good deeds, you are seeking to shrink that Grudge until it is no longer a problem. You bombard it with love for neighbor, praying for the one who has hurt you, doing good to the one who harmed you, until you have eliminated the threat of the grudge.
- Sometimes the Grudge you discard today pops up again tomorrow and you must deal with it again.
Jesus gives us the great challenge of forgiveness, and then says, “Be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect.” He realizes that he is setting a high bar for us in forgiveness. But if we will do it we will making great leaps toward being more like him.
Conclusion: It is time to forgive. I have two people in mind who have done me wrong. I am going to tell the Lord again this morning that I forgive them. I know this is a spiritual matter between me and God. I invite you to join me in this repentance of the grudge and this determination to follow Christ by forgiving.