This, my dear friends, is a very touchy topic. At least for me it is. It's something that I am learning on a long journey...but I honestly believe that its all worth it.
Matthew 18 is a wonderful chapter in the Bible that helps me understand the wicked nature of a grudge. In verse 21 (AMP), Peter asked Jesus, "Lord, how many times may my brother sin against me and I forgive him and let it go? [As many as] up to seven times?" And in the next verse Jesus answered, "I tell you, not up to seven times, but seventy times seven!"
Then Jesus likens the kingdom of heaven to a king who had an attendant that owed him a lot of money. When the king asked for the money that was owed and the attendant couldn't pay, the king ordered that the attendant be sold with all of his belongings. The debt was so large that the king even said that the man's wife and son should be sold. Today the debt would've been equivalent to about $10,000,000!! But at the decree the attendant fell to the king's feet and wept and begged for mercy. After seeing the man at his feet, the king felt compassion and had mercy on the man. This kind and generous king let the servant go and canceled this huge debt! I can't imagine the gratitude and relief that the servant felt. He was given his own freedom and the freedom of his family. He was given peace of mind and a clean slate.
But, ON THE WAY BACK from this wonderful meeting with a kind ruler, the attendant went to go and seek out a fellow attendant who owed him some money. The first attendant's friend owed him only about $20, but could not pay the debt. In the same manner that he had fallen at the feet of the king, the attendant found his comrade falling at his own feet and begging for patience and promising to pay the debt in full, but the man who had been forgiven a large debt looked at him and had no compassion. The first attendant ordered that his friend be thrown into jail until he could pay off the debt!
Isn't that a crazy story? How can a man who had be let out of a debt of $10,000,000 hold on so tightly when owed just $20? It seems absurd, but in reality this is exactly what we Christians do when we don't forgive people that hurt us. Jesus died so that we could be forgiven a debt so great that only the Son of God could pay the price. Why can't we let go of broken hearts or broken friendships? Why can't we forgive a slandered name or a simple misunderstanding? It just doesn't seem fair.
And this is the thing: Most of the time our anger and grudges are completely valid and justified. But we're supposed to be like Jesus. Aren't we? In Psalm 86:5 (AMP) the Psalmist says:
"For You, O Lord, are good, and ready to forgive [our trespasses, sending them away, letting them go completely and forever]; and You are abundant in mercy and loving-kindness to all those who call upon You."
This is the kind of God that we serve. Kind, caring, forgiving, sweet. We've got to be the same way after we've been redeemed because our own forgiveness depends on how we treat others who need it. This fact is taught at the end of the parable I spoke about earlier. When people saw how the forgiven attendant treated his friend, they went to tell the king. The king was rightfully enraged and gave the attendant over to tormenting jailers until the monies that had been pardoned before could be paid off.
I've been reading a book called The Bait of Satan: Living Free from the Deadly Trap of Offense by John Bevere. Its a great book and you should check it out. It gives so much insight into the need for forgiveness in our lives. For ourselves and for others.