Points to Ponder: Going to Hell with a Grudge?
Points to Ponder
Going to Hell with a Grudge?
So, who are you mad at today? When you go to worship, do you maneuver your way around the foyer and the sanctuary to avoid seeing or talking to "her" or "him". Some of you have already dropped out of church because of what someone did or said. So there you are, serving the devil--a vessel in his service, a soldier in his army. Your grudge is your enlistment paper and a down payment on your trip to Hell. Tough talk, huh?
We say in the Lord's prayer, "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who have trespassed against us." (Personally, I get a little nervous myself when I hear those words come out of my month.) Jesus adds His commentary in Matthew 6:14-15: "For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins."
That seems rather hard, but as a pastor I have discovered how practical and very true the saying is: one who does not forgive others can not be forgiven because they can not or will not receive it. You can not put something into a clenched fist. If you are harboring bitterness, hatred, or some kind of grudge, you have clenched shut your own heart. You can not really listen to God's word, though you may HEAR it, because it can not get very deep. God's holiness will not compete for space alongside the sin you cherish in your heart. He will not hear your prayer and you will not hear Him. (Psalm 66:18) Grudges are at least a blockage and at worst a severance of your connection to the Lord.
Our ministry as Christians is to be messengers of reconciliation. (II Corinthians 5:17-21) How can people who hate each other deliver that message? In our grudge-bearing, we insult the Lord and give the unbelieving world an opportunity to blaspheme Christ's name. As much as you and I participate in these divisive attitudes and behavior, we are agents of Hell. We work for the devil by hindering the light of Christ with the darkness dwelling in our hearts.
Jesus tells us that if you remember you have done harm to someone, leave your offering alone and go make things right with that person (Matthew 5:23-24). If on the other hand, a fellow believer has sinned against you, go and talk to him/her. Do your best to resolve the matter and reconcile the relationship. (Matthew 18:15-20)
In those cases where attempts at reconciliation would be so complicated that the matter could be made worse, Churck Swindoll gives good advice. Go to Psalm 26. Pray for vindication of your name and intentions. Ask that your own sin be shown to you and then repent of it and ask forgiveness. Then, give the person and the matter over to God--and do not try to help Him out after you have done that! Let God work in God's time.
Paul reminds us Romans 12:18 to love our enemies, seek their good and pray for them; do not seek revenge: "If possible, as far as it depends on you live at peace with everyone."
I was prompted to write about this matter when I thought of Jesus on Good Friday. The religious leaders broke their own rules to set Him up for a false trail. He was lied about, beaten up, whipped until He was a bloody mess, spat on and mocked, and finally nailed to a cross. All through that ordeal, He never got angry, never lost His temper, and had no condemning words for any of those involved. He said, "Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing." (Luke 23:24) That day, they did not know what they were doing...but you do.
Today, you do know what you are doing. If you claim Jesus Christ as your savior and Lord, you have no excuse. Get out of the devil's army. Forgive the grudge. Heal the breech. Start serving the Lord again for the first time.
The first time? Yes, because you will be a different person. When you confess your sin and your wrong attitudes and actions, He is faithful and will forgive your sin. He also will cleanse all your unrighteous. (I John 1:9) Then you will be new--refreshed and revived. That old grudgewill then be a building block for making you stronger, rather then the stumbling block it has been.
"Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me." (Psalm 51:10 NIV)
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