Today’s Question: Can Holding A Grudge Prevent You From Feeling The Love of God?
They may seem like to totally different topics- forgiving someone and the love of God- but truly they are one and the same. Forgiveness- at least in the true sense of the term- cannot be accomplished in the absence of the love of Christ. To delve into the why, we must examine what happens spiritually when we hold a grudge against another person.
The Grudge Cycle
Here is a life fact: someone that you know will offend you. It’s usually without knowing, and is void of malice. But in our minds, we believe that they should have known better, been more considerate, been more empathetic, etc. Simply put, they just should have known better.
This Is Where The Seed Starts
“They should have known better…”
Either they made a mistake, didn’t know that you would take it the wrong way, or had an off day. Any of these scenarios are plausible, yet we jump to the negative. Here is an example in my own family… And the sad consequence.
My grandfather accidentally forgot my aunt’s birthday. Her birthday must have been a big deal to her, and she must have looked forward to that call from her dad wishing her a happy birthday. What child doesn’t?
It doesn’t matter how old you are, most of us delight in our parents wishing us a happy birthday. But this year, he just forgot to call her and wish her a happy birthday. You might think, “How insensitive! He didn’t take two seconds out from his time to do something that was so important to her… Something that meant so much. What kind of a dad does these things?”
Did I mention that he was in his late eighties, at the time? Did I mention that he forgot my birthday, too… and it was the day before his… which meant that he forgot his own birthday (which he did)? My aunt’s birthday was a few days after his, and by then he had forgotten two birthdays including his own.
It’s just the way it goes when you are that old. The days for him blended into one. We were grateful for the many years that God had bestowed on him. He didn’t forget on purpose… he was just absent-minded.
My aunt, however, took offence at the oversight. My grandfather and her were very close, up until that point. That offence turned into a grudge because she never mentioned to him that the omission hurt her. She didn’t take the time to consider his age, and that it was an oversight on his part.
There was no malice, but she ascertained that there was. Her heart hardened towards him as she mulled over the injustice. The result? She stopped calling him, and coming over. The relationship remained severed until the day he died- which was five years later. He never knew why she stopped coming, and for a man who loved family, it must have hurt a great deal.
My grandfather had a sudden heart attack in which he ended up in hospital. My parents found him on the floor of his home in pain. They called an ambulance… of which he humorously tried to bribe the attendants with money so that they would go away (he hated hospitals!).
When my parents found out that he had suffered a heart attack, they called the entire family. My aunt never came. He passed away the next day with the only people beside him being myself and my parents. My aunt had to live with the pain of never being able to say good-bye, or even I love you, as her last words were, “I can’t forgive you.”
She can’t take back that moment. Ever.
The Worst Reality
Grudges begin as a seed implanted in our hearts- ruminating on the fact that someone doesn’t care, or should have known. We meditate on a perceived injustice, we judge the other person, pass judgement, and a seed of bitterness becomes sown into our hearts.
That seed hardens our hearts making forgiveness almost impossible without God intervening. However, He can’t intervene if we really don’t want to let it go.
But I Can’t Let It Go!
Is it that you can’t let it go, or you won’t let it go? Forgiveness, much like commitment, is a choice. We choose to forgive, because holding it tight, is creating a bondage that we will not be able to free ourselves from until that moment that we decide to let it go.
The other person doesn’t suffer from that grudge- most of them are oblivious to it. But the anger, resentment, bitterness and hurt- those emotions- we carry with us throughout our days. It wastes energy, and destroys important relationships. We aren’t making the other person suffer… you can’t make someone suffer if they don’t know what they did to begin with. But we suffer.
What If They Know The Offence But Won’t Apologize?
Do you need an apology to move on? An apology shouldn’t signal closure if you choose to forgive out of a place of sincerity. Forgiveness is choosing to let the offence go- much like God does- and consciously not dwell on it. It is freeing the other person from wrongdoing thereby freeing yourself.
Forgiveness is walking in a Christ-like love. How easy do you think that it was for Jesus to forgive those who lied about Him or persecuted Him for no reason? But even He knew that they did not know what they were doing- that they were blinded- and all they were doing was fulfilling scripture.
Jesus looked past the sin and into the heart of the person. Love says that we might not know why people say or behave the way that they do, but it believes the best in them. Love believes that the offence was accidental, and if it hurt in some way, that we would confront the person in love.
If they choose not to take responsibility, then we have been released. Let God deal with their sin. But don’t let that sin fall on you! Then you are just as guilty as they are.
Brenda Stapleton will take this topic further in our May edition of Faith Filled Family Magazine. She will tell you how holding grudges will prevent you from feeling the love of God. She will also discuss why a Christ-like love for others is so necessary for true forgiveness.
She will break down the bondages of holding a grudge, and help you walk in freedom from something that you may not have realized is holding you in bondage.
Who knows? You may discover the real reason for the perceived offence! And what if you discover that it had nothing to do with you? You held onto it… wasted days, months, or even years… holding on to something trivial.
Our next issue will come out on April 26, 2019!