Grudge Not!

There’s a sin that believers can commit that may be more deadly than adultery. It infects victims with a plague more dreadful than Covid. It is, in practice, often more damaging than alcoholism.

It is not only possible for believers to commit this sin; it is commonly practiced and can be found in almost any church in America.

Some who practice it would not think of robbing a bank, but committing this sin ranks right up there with the worst of offences to a holy God.

Most who commit this sin would never murder another human being, but its consequences are as ugly as transgressing the fifth commandment.

It is probably one of the sins most commonly practiced by all saints. God hates it as much as divorce and will judge it as surely as He will judge homosexuality! 

Preachers and deacons and Sunday school teachers are too often guilty of it; you can find it in the pulpit as well as in the pew.

Old Christians and young-in-the-faith believers alike are too often trapped in this spiritually deadening sin-hole. It has probably caused more grief, more heartache, more discouragement, more trouble and even more expense than any sin known to mankind!

None of us can afford to continue on in it for one moment!

God’s warning is clear: “Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door.” (James 5:9)

Causes for committing this sin are almost limitless: Someone lied about you; insulted you as weighing too much; received more recognition than you; forgot your birthday or intimated that your housekeeping could be a bit better. Or, the pastor looked straight at you while preaching on tithing; or, your mother-in-law came to visit and stayed three years; or, your wife spoke a bit too highly of the attractiveness of another man; or your husband gave you $100 and expected you to buy groceries for a family of five for the week. And on and on: things people have said or done to you that offended you and for which you hold a grudge.

We could mention things that people did not do to you that were the source of an unhealthy itch that has in time become an irritation: You were slighted in not receiving an invitation to breakfast with friends; the Pastor visited a fellow church member who had been in the hospital for two days, but failed to visit you when you were in for some major surgery; you were overlooked for nomination to church officer again this year, though you are as qualified and have actually been a member of your church longer than some who were nominated; you were passed over for a raise at work though you know for a fact some fellow employees did receive a raise who are, in your humble estimation, less deserving than you.  And the reasons go on, ad nauseum!

The consequences for harboring a grudge are inestimable. Starting with broken friendships, one could cite many victims, including families, neighbors, churches, cities, and nations. Divorce is another familiar consequence of grudges over money, success, friendships, physical intimacy (or lack thereof), and past grievances. Then, disease: mental, physical and ultimately death can sometimes be attributed to holding long-term grudges, according medical and mental health experts. Holding a grudge for whatever reason can be a very expensive practice.

King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia decided to boycott the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana to continue a protest dating to 1704. As one account noted: “The Spanish government announced Tuesday the king and queen declined the invitation to next week’s wedding because the royal couple plan to go to Gibraltar to board the royal yacht Britannia for a honeymoon cruise. Gibraltar has been a British colony since 1704.” A very long time to nurse a grudge! (Copied)

The costs of holding grudges: some are tangible, such as medical bills, divorce with all of its unending ripples, funerals, wars. We could add some intangible costs:  lost friends, lost unity, lost souls, and destroyed ministries and churches.

There is, praise God, a cure for this debilitating digression! Recognize it as sin; acknowledge it for what it is; confess it; and then forsake it. Refuse to revisit it ever: “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)

“The longer you stay in the ministry, you will know the important thing is not what you’ve remembered. The important thing is what you’ve decided to forget.” (Jim Schettler)

So, embrace the correction for this terrible spiritual malady:  Be honest in sharing with the offender how you have harbored your resentment; then be humble, admitting that you are a broken vessel and that you are often less tolerant of sins in others than you are of your own. “But He giveth more grace. Wherefore He saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble.” (James 4:8)

A church bulletin had a clever poem about criticism that began: “A little seed lay in the ground, and soon began to sprout; ‘Now which of all the flowers around shall I,’ it mused, ‘come out?’ The seed could then be heard to say, ‘I don’t care to be a rose. It has thorns. I have no desire to be a lily. It is too colorless. And I certainly wouldn’t want to be a violet. It’s too small, and it grows too close to the ground.’”

The poem concludes with this verse about that fault-finding seed: “And so it criticized each flower, that supercilious seed. Until it woke one summer hour and found itself a weed!”

Be careful how and why you criticize. And, do not harbor a grudge toward those who have criticized you. Commit it to God. Your critics will have enough grief to deal with; you do not need to, nor should you, add any grief to theirs.  The Judge standeth before the door. (James 5:9)

“But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.” (Romans 12:10)

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