It’s amazing to me that someone who can claim to be saved by Grace can hold such great grudges. As I read through the Bible, I see that such habits are antithetical to the Love Jesus calls His followers to. Yet here it is: Christians wallowing in anger, unforgiveness, bitterness, jealousy, and so many other things we’re warned against. I have heard, even very recently, so many harboring anger in their hearts toward someone, even to a degree of lashing out at someone for showing that person compassion. Why is this? Why do we hold on to such things that will not only destroy us, but disqualify us from God’s presence? After all, doesn’t Jesus say if we do not forgive we can’t be forgiven, and tell us to ask for forgiveness of our debts as we pray for those whom we hold debts over?
We hold on to anger because of our own inadequacies. All of us have sinned, and all of us have fallen well short of God’s glory. Holding on to unforgiveness gives us a feeling of power, and even superiority over a person “whose sin is not as bad as mine.” Instead of loving and forgiving because of God’s generous and sacrificial nature, we default to our own sin nature by comparing notes. We become legalistic, and we let our love become conditional instead of sacrificial. We can’t get around it, though: the love of Jesus requires sacrifice, and if we have anger, bitterness, and reviling for our neighbor in our hearts, according to the Word of God, the love of Jesus is not in us.
We are commanded by Jesus Himself to love our neighbor as ourselves. At the Last Supper, Jesus gave His disciples a new commandment, to love one another as He loved them, and this was the command passed to us as well. The implementation of the command is not as simple as the command seems, but it is something we must do. Let go of hatred. Let go of grudges, and any wrong done to you. It is possible, I’m still learning to let go, but it’s absolutely possible! Jesus commanded we love our neighbor as our self. Jesus commanded us to love as He loved us. Love is not about you. Sacrifice. Let go of your anger and bitterness and grudges, even if you’re justified by worldly standards. Prove you belong to Christ by loving as He did: love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you, and love as a living sacrifice.
Matthew 5:21-26, 38-48
“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. 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. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.