By Pastor Bruce K. Oyen
My theme is a practical one: A challenge to grudge-bearing Christians. A grudge-bearing Christian is one who has been hurt by someone’s words or actions and who, instead of forgiving that person, bears a grudge. Such persons claim to be Christians and claim to believe the Bible. But in spite of its clear teaching that we are to forgive others, they hang on to their hurt, anger, and bitterness. It’s not that they can’t forgive, but that they won’t do so.
All of us get hurt by others. Sometimes it might be only a slight thing, other times it might be a horrible and life-altering experience. The worse it is, the easier it is to bear a grudge. And the more sympathetic we can and should be toward the one who got hurt. We would do well to ask ourselves how we might treat the offender, if we were the one who was mistreated. Doing so will help us to be more understanding of their struggle with bearing a grudge.
But the fact remains that the Bible says we must forgive those who hurt us. Here is what the apostle Paul wrote on the subject in verses 31 and 32 of the fourth chapter of his letter to the Ephesians: “31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: 32 And be ye kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” The apostle Paul’s statements were preceded by what his Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, had said to his disciples on this subject some years before Paul had become a Christian. The following quote is taken from the Lord’s words found in the well-known “Sermon On The Mount,” which is recorded in chapters 5 – 7 of Matthew’s Gospel. The quote is from chapter 6, verses 9 – 15: “9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. 10 Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. 14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: 15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
As demanding as these Biblical statements are, the fact remains that we Christians are obligated to do what they say: forgive those who hurt us. Now, here is my challenge to grudge-bearing Christians: Tell the Lord in prayer that you are bearing a grudge toward so-and-so, and that you know it is wrong to do so, and that you want his help to let it go at once. You know the Lord wants you to forgive others, so you can safely assume that he will hear your prayer, if it comes from a truly sincere heart. Unforgiveness is not an enemy that gives up easily, so pray about it every time you feel the anger and resentment returning. And it will be very helpful to pray for the one who hurt you, and to do good things for them. But if you refuse to forgive whoever has hurt you, how can you ask the Lord to forgive your sins? Could you tell him you want forgiveness for some sin, and at the same time tell him you refuse to do what he says about forgiving others?
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(The Biblical quotes above are from the King James Version, and were taken from this website: www.biblegateway.com.)