Want in on a little secret? Here it is. I like to hold a grudge. I like to hold a grudge because it feels good. You see, when I hold a grudge, the other person is the bad guy, and I’m the victim. When I hold a grudge, I can play the part of the tragic hero and bask in my righteous indignation. Best of all, when I hold a grudge, my life is simple. I’m right. They’re wrong. And unless they come back and grovel to my satisfaction, I don’t have to strain my mind about anything.
But there’s a downside to holding a grudge. Playing the victim seems like an easy pass for a while. But over time it leaves a sense of helplessness that’s bitter and dark. Righteous indignation may taste sweet for a moment, but eventually it sours the soul. And when I hold a grudge in front of my eyes, I am blinding myself to all the ways I have failed others, all the ways I have disappointed others, and all the ways I have given others good reason to hold a grudge against me.
Maybe you struggle with the same problem.
But here’s the real tragedy. You and I are naturals when it comes to holding grudges. We’re good at it. So good that, as sinners, we’re trapped. Trapped in cycles of bitterness and resentment. Trapped with no peaceful place to go.
Which is exactly why Jesus came to invade our time and space. He took upon himself the weight of our every sin, our every failure, our every wrong. He went to the cross. He paid for them in full. Because he did, the Lord has forgiven us. It’s a forgiveness that’s complete. It’s a forgiveness that’s free.
That forgiveness is something else, too. God’s Word tells us that that forgiveness is also what gives us the power to forgive others, to release old grudges, to dismiss old grievances that have been darkening our lives far too long.
This year, throw the old grudges away. Forgive. Forgive as the Lord has forgiven you.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, forgive me for the grudges I have held. Empower me to forgive. Amen.