Who’s got your goat?
Is there anyone you’re still angry with? Perhaps an old college friend who owes you a lot of money, or maybe someone made fun of you a lot when you were younger. Maybe it’s something more recent, such as a co-worker that you hold a grudge against refusing to talk with them amicably because of a personality difference, or maybe it’s a family member who has consistently ‘wronged’ you in some way.
The Bible is rich with text that tells us how we should feel towards grudges. In Ephesians, Paul says “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (). Notice what it says, right there at the end? “Forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
It’s hard to do, though, isn’t it? It’s easy to get into a mindset of “They are the one who is wrong. I’m not doing anything until they apologize to me first.” Sometimes, though, we need to put the first step forward.
Let’s look at a crazy example. You’re on your way home from work, and you’re driving the right way down a one way street, and you notice that there is another car headed right for you! Now, clearly the other driver is in the wrong. He is, for whatever reason, driving the wrong way down a one way street, and if someone doesn’t do something, there’s going to be a pretty bad accident. You have two choices – you can either keep driving, and collide, or you can extend grace, pull off to the side of the road, and allow them to pass.
We can apply the same model to forgiveness – we can keep holding that grudge, until it wells up within us and destroys a relationship (or, perhaps, prevents it from ever healing at all), or we can extend grace, and forgive that other person.
Is there anyone whom you’re still angry with?
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31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (ESV)