A certain city in Germany has a castle often frequented by tourists. When we were there, we noticed that one of its four turrets was broken and crumbled. We asked about it and were told that when the castle was restored, they left that turret as it was — “to remind us of what the French did to us” in a war that happened a few hundred years ago.
Passing a grudge down through generations seems a waste of energy. Besides that, carrying grudges is harmful to health. There are other options. The Mayo clinic website says this: “When someone you care about hurts you, you can hold on to anger, resentment and thoughts of revenge — or embrace forgiveness and move forward.”
Their website goes on to say holding a grudge brings anger and bitterness into every relationship and new experience. If I do it, I can become so wrapped up in past wrongs suffered that I can't enjoy the present day. Grudges cause depression and/or anxiety. They can make me feel as if my life lacks meaning or purpose, and certainly puts me at odds with my faith. Grudges are not popular with others, so I can lose friends if I carry them.
Jesus says: “So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” (Matthew 5:23–24)
Jesus is not referring to my mulling over what someone did to me, but those times when His Spirit reminds me that I did harm to someone else. I’m to do something about it. Even if I was the injured person, He does not want me to retaliate or just forget about it. He wants reconciliation that includes forgiveness. It is about having nothing between me and another person, about restoring open and full fellowship.
This tells me a great deal about the will of God and about His nature. He wants that kind of relationship with me, one in which I do not let anything interfere with our fellowship either.
I’m to keep short accounts with God and short accounts with others. The biggest difference between the two is that God will never sin against me. However, I sin against Him, and when I do, He notes it and pokes me with conviction. He does this so I will come to Him and be reconciled through confession and repentance. This is to be my way of life, as Chambers says, as natural a breathing.
Being at peace with others in God’s family is a priority. This attitude of mind is also important in my relationship with those outside the faith. If I offend them, I’m to admit it and seek forgiveness. However, if they offend me, some may not care or even notice, yet the desire for reconciliation and forgiveness ought to be my attitude, not anger and holding a grudge against them.
Some people say, “Don’t get mad; get even” but this is not what God says. If I withhold forgiveness and stay angry, it will not only raise a barricade to relationships, but harm me personally. God does not want that either. He wants all issues settled so I can freely offer my life to Him.