Vol.XIX No.VIII Pg.3
October 1982

The Grudge - Holder

Dan S. Shipley

The grudge-holder suffers from an unusual kind of wound. Although his grudge is related to a past conflict with another, it is a wound that is self-inflicted. Remarkably, its healing is hindered in not being desired. In fact, it is actually a cherished spirit of resentment; a welcomed feeling of ill will toward another. You might say the grudge-holder is glad to be mad at someone. If so, it is about the only gladness that comes from grudges.

One thing you will never see is a happy grudge-holder. His mind is forever troubled because the object of his grudge becomes the object of his thinking. He continually rehearses and relives his mistreatment — perhaps even magnifying it. With each recollection comes more bitterness and resentment, if not self-pity. Harboring a grudge defiles the heart, poisons the thinking and produces misery. The grudge-holder will be hard put to "rejoice in the Lord" as encouraged in Phil. 3:1 — because "as he thinketh in his heart, so is he" (Prov. 23:7).

Moreover, so speaks he. As Jesus taught, ...the things which proceed out of the mouth come forth out of the heart..." (Matt. 15:18). The grudge in the heart soon translates to words in the mouth and to the detriment of many. As the grudge-holder vilifies and speaks evil of his brother, he sins against God (Jas. 4:11), hurts himself, hurts his brother, and hurts those he tells. But it gets worse.

Grudges can easily become the wedges of division. As the tongue advertises the grudge-holder's flavored grievances in search of sympathy and allies, some are apt to be influenced and prejudiced — especially kinsmen and friends. Their thinking and conduct toward the perpetrator of this "great injustice" are adversely affected and, thus, others become involved in a way that threatens unity in the church. As Paul said, "...a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump" (1 Cor. 5:6). Many churches have been made to suffer unnecessary and irreparable harm through the influence of grudge-holding brethren.

None is more deceived than the Christian who thinks he can hold a grudge without jeopardizing his soul. Calling it something else doesn't remove the problem. Even when it may not be all that apparent, we can be tempted to harbor a deep-seated kind of resentment and bitterness toward others. We must be honest with ourselves. God says to put away ALL bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and malice (Eph. 4:31). Do we believe it?

Finally, no matter how justifiable the grudge may seem, it is always an expression of contempt and hate. God commands us to love one another (Jn. 15:12; 1 Jn. 3:11; 4:7) — even enemies (Matt. 5:44). The grudge condemns; love forgives. "Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you" (Eph. 4:32). Forgiveness! — man's greatest blessing. How desperately we need it: — yet the grudge-holder would forfeit it by withholding it from others. Brethren, let's get grudges out of our hearts and out of the church!