Point to Ponder: Old Scores Don't Age Well

Point to Ponder
Old Scores Don't Age Well

Are your grudges aging well? The oldest one I know of was 277 years old in 1981 (not sure where it stands today).
An Associated Press report out of Madrid, Spain (7/23/81) stated that King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia had formally declined the invitation to the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana. They had decided to continue the Spanish government's protest against Great Britain, a grudge that dated back to 1704. Spain's royal couple had opted to go to Gibralter to board the royal yacht Britannia for a "honeymoon cruise." Gibralter has been a British colony since 1704. And they're still mad about it.
We may chuckle at something like that, but many of us get a "burr under our saddle" that we just won't clear up.
I grew up around neighbors who never spoke to each other because of some offense. Neither would take the initiative to settle the grievance. But 277 years; now that takes some doing. You have to make efforts to pass on to your descendants your hatred for the descendants of the other person. And yes, you can inherit a grudge, not even realizing why you despise a certain person(s), institution, ethnic group, etc.
I quit attending church when I was about 15 years old. I didn't like nor respect our pastor. He had offended my parents by his cold treatment (as they perceived it) toward them while my father was in Vietnam. I never talked to the pastor about it myself. My mother didn't like him, so neither did I.
I had taken confirmation classes, which the pastor taught. I saw him and heard him through the filter of my prejudgment of him. Ironically. He spoke to me about becoming a pastor. He sensed I may have a call to ministry. But I dismissed that notion because, in my mind, I had already dismissed him. And all along, he never knew I didn't like him because I never talked to him about the family grievance.
After confirmation I quit church. That sounds like a contradictory statement. Grudges tend to elevate us as superior in our own eyes as we use them to justify our low opinion of the other. I called the church a house of hypocrisy; yet I fit that charge better than anyone in there. And though the evidence of that was clear, no one I encountered from the church hit me with it. My wise old Sunday School teacher Mr. Wintersteen smiled and said, "You'll be back."
What did he know? Apparently a lot more than me. I had inherited my parents' grudge against the pastor specifically and the church in general. Thinking myself too wise and above all that "church stuff," I became a fool. No doubt there are false teachers and charlatans in the pulpits and hypocrites in the pews. But if you read the New Testament, Jesus in the gospels and the writers tell us that that is how it will be. The wheat and the weeds grow together. Using that as an excuse for going our own way and disobeying the scriptures charges us with the greater offense. You say you're a believer in God - in Jesus Christ - and yet you don't need His church (which He founded) and you don't need to read and obey His word? I did that. And it was a decision, resulting in a series of bad decisions, that was based on a grudge I had inherited.
Grudges are like wine. They ferment and become more intoxicating with time. You drink enough of them and you wind up saying and doing all kinds of stupid things you may one day regret.
In Genesis, Joseph gives us a lesson that will stand for all time. His brothers, led by Judah, had sold him into slavery. They told their father he was dead. With God's help, he rose to become prime minister of Egypt, eventually saving that nation and his family from starvation. If Joseph had held a grudge - and most would believe it justifiable - what would you think of him?
"Thus you shall say to Joseph: 'I beg you, please forgive the trespass of your brothers and their sin; for they did evil to you.' Now, please, forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of your father. And Joseph wept when they spoke to him. Then his brothers also went and fell down before his face, and they said, 'Behold, we are your servants.' Joseph said to them, 'Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God? But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive" (Genesis 50:17-20).
Grudges lead to nothing but more pain today and lost opportunity tomorrow. Grudges keep us apart from people we need. And we fail to hear God's directions.
Four centuries later, Joshua and Caleb, descendants of Joseph and Judah, would lead Israel into the Promised Land (Numbers 13:6-8, 16-33; 14:22-38; Joshua)
But that great conquest began with settling a grudge in Egypt. Are you still in Egypt?

Points to Ponder is a series of occasional articles written by Rev. Dennis Whitmore, Pastor of Hilltop Christian Fellowship of Clear Spring, MD. These articles (and sermons) are also found at www.hilltopchristianfellowship.com. Listen to Pastor Dennis on WJEJ-1240 AM, Tues and Thurs, at 10:45am and 7:50pm, both days.