The Baggage We Carry Day 3 – Grudges and Bitterness
“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)
“For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matthew 6:14-15, ESV)
Nothing can spoil our usefulness and godly purpose more quickly than bitterness and holding grudges. To be quite honest, most of us have experienced this to some degree in our own lives because of words or actions that hurt us or someone we love. I remember something I heard from a radio preacher, and I know it’s true even in my own experience:
“If someone tells you nine things they love about you, and one thing they dislike about you, you’ll only remember the one and forget the nine.”
That one thing will fester and replay over and over again in your mind, and if you’re not careful, bitterness and genuine dislike for that person will take hold of your heart. It seems ludicrous, given that they really like nine qualities about you, but that one they don’t like niggles you in the back of your mind, right?
There are many issues that cause us to hold grudges, and some may be more serious than a personality flaw we might possess. Someone may have harmed you or a family member, or even taken the life of someone you dearly loved. A spouse may have betrayed you sexually and walked away. You may have experienced a financial drain from a crooked family member. There are a host of reasons we may be driven to hold a grudge and allow bitterness to develop toward someone, but as understandably painful as these hurts may be, we are hurting ourselves more by living in this state, especially as Christ followers.
Bitterness is simply transferring one pain to another. The hurt we carry is never properly dealt with, and so that hurt is nursed into a bitterness that begins to corrupt us. It goes without saying that we have experienced grace beyond measure from Jesus Christ—a grace we didn’t deserve. And yet oftentimes we withhold that grace from others, thinking our feelings are justified.
Friends, bitterness and holding grudges have no place in the life of a believer. And I’ll be honest in saying I’ve experienced both. There are certain people that when their names are mentioned, I immediately think of things they did that hurt me and I feel resentment. But this is sin for me. When we were forgiven by Christ, He commanded us to do the same to those who have or will hurt us; there is no exclusion clause.
May God give us the courage to repent of these feelings, forgive those who have hurt us, and release the baggage we insist on carrying. Until we do, we will not live in accordance to His will for us, and we cannot live an abundant life as His child. Put your burden down, and experience the peace that follows a forgiving spirit.