The Bible and Grudges
Introduction: Our study applies to all in that the teaching of the Bible is applicable to all and also the circumstances that can promote grudges occur to all people. "Grudge" is commonly defined as, "A feeling of ill will or resentment" (RHCD). A held grudge often involves resentment to the point of hatred and the desire to do harm to the one against whom the grudge is held. God intends for his people to mix and be involved with others (cp. Heb. 10: 24, 25). Hence, the opportunity for mistreatment and the formation of grudges.
I. Jesus taught love of enemies.
A. "Love your enemies," said Jesus (Matt. 5: 44). Jesus continued, "bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you."
B. Jesus himself practiced what he taught. Hear him on the cross as he prayed for his murderers, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do" (Lk. 23: 34).
C. Moreover, Jesus taught: "For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: but if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses" (Matt. 6: 14, 15, see also Matt. 18: 21-35).
II. Actual forgiveness is conditional.
A. A biblical truth unknown to many is that actual forgiveness is conditional. Regarding a brother who has sinned against another, Jesus thus instructs the sinned against, "Take heed to yourselves: if thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him" (Lk. 17: 3). The conditional particle "if" indicates forgiveness cannot be offered unless there is repentance.
B. "Jesus unconditionally forgave," we hear. These same murderers for whom Jesus prayed his Father to forgive, were later charged with the sin of Jesus' murder and told to repent (Acts 2: 22, 23, 37, 38). It was not until they complied with the terms of forgiveness that they were, in fact, forgiven (Acts 2: 38-47).
C. This does not mean, however, that one is to carry a grudge or harbor hate toward another. There must at all times be a forgiving spirit (cp. Eph. 4: 32).
III. God and man's forgiveness of sin, they are tantamount.
A. The worse situation involving man sinning against man can not even begin to compare to the sins man commits against God (Matt. 18: 24, 25, 27; 28-30).
B. However, there is sameness in the way the sin is to be forgiven (Eph. 4: 32). If man's forgiveness of sin is unconditional, then God's forgiveness of man's sins must also be unconditional!
IV. Grudges are self-destructive.
A. Hate eats away at the very fiber of the grudge carrier until he is miserable and obsessed. The inspired apostle Paul wrote, "Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath" (Eph. 4: 26).
Conclusion: The awareness of having been sinned against is not necessarily the same as carrying a grudge. Grudges, as commonly defined, are always wrong and must be avoided. The attitude to always be willing to forgive another will preclude even the circumstance for grudges (cp. Acts 7: 60). However, to forgive without the repentance of the sinner is to release debt without authority and can deceive the sinner into thinking that he no longer has the need to repent. In this respect, such "forgiveness" is the same as one teaching forgiveness without baptism (cp. Acts 2: 38, 22: 16).