The Grudge Report: Letting Go of Grudges
Grudges are funny things. We feel no better for holding on to them, and yet, we do. Why? Part of it is because in doing so we perhaps think that we are protecting ourselves from allowing the same hurt to overcome us again. Another reason could be that we are afraid that if we let go of our grudge, we will lose the upper hand and bring ourselves in the path of the same offense again. Or yet another reason could be pure and simple pride. We like having power over another by lording unforgiveness over them and making them remember just how they did us wrong.
Do we need to keep forgiving our grudges over and over with no retaliation? Scripture sure does give some interesting insight in response to this question:
“But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.”
– Matthew 5:39
“Then Peter cam to Him and said, ‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven’.”
– Matthew 18:21,22
Wow. That’s…hard for us to comprehend. We want vengeance. We want to scream to the world, “I’m right and they’re wrong!” This concept of forgiving our grudges and having to do so repeatedly makes us buck at first, because, let’s face it, we don’t want to look like chumps.
The problem with all of this is that in holding on to a grudge, we hurt ourselves far more than we hurt those we are holding a grudge against. We let it seethe and simmer in our spirits, making us irritable, ill at ease, and without peace. And that is somehow a win? That is us getting the upper hand? Believe me, I’ve tried it both ways, and letting go of the grudge is far more satisfying. It’s freeing.
“But you don’t know what they did to me!” you may want to scream at your computer screen right now. No, I don’t. But I do know that nothing God asks you to give up is worth more than what He’s willing to give you in exchange. And what will He give you? Freedom, joy, peace, and, perhaps, even new levels of healing that you had long written off as impossible. Maybe by being the “bigger person,” you will so startle your enemy, that they find themselves moved by your example. Maybe you’ll see restored relationships where they once laid in ruins. I’m not saying that will always be the outcome, but sometimes, you may be surprised.
Today, get honest with yourself. Allow God to reveal to you places in your life that you may be holding on to a grudge. Then, take that grudge to Him. Be honest, always. It’s not like He doesn’t know what you’re thinking or feeling anyway, right? Ask Him to help you slowly release that grudge to Him, and give you His forgiveness for the one that has wronged you.
I think you’ll find yourself pleasantly surprised at the results of letting go of long-standing grudges in your life. Try it!