Have you ever held a grudge? Someone insults you, offends you, hurts you in some way, and all of a sudden, you have it in for that person. I’ve done that. In fact, I think we are ALL familiar with that scenario. The problem with holding a grudge is that it has a negative effect on other aspects of life.
As bitterness festers, it can actually harm other relationships. When there is no attempt to talk it out and reconcile, anger against a person continues to build until you find you are unwittingly taking it out on family and friends. Sometimes, those closest to us suffer the worst from pent-up bitterness against another.
From a health standpoint, anger and bitterness cause stress, which leads to multiple health problems. Prolonged bitterness can contribute to heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity. In essence, a person’s quality of life can suffer, while the person they are holding a grudge against may not even know the grudge exists.
While there are many ways to relieve stress and deal with the results of pent-up anger and bitterness, they don’t go to the root of the problem; unforgiveness. But, there is a way to go to the “heart” of the problem, both literally and figuratively.
Romans 5:1-5 speaks about some of the benefits of trusting Jesus as Savior and Lord. Verses one and five are particularly encouraging, concerning bitterness. Verse one refers to those in Christ as having “peace with God” through Christ. Obviously, when a person has peace with God, it is going to make it easier to be at peace with others. Verse five says of those in Christ that “God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit”. With the presence of His Spirit in our lives, a person is able to love others not just of themselves, but with the love of GOD. That’s encouraging news in the area of getting rid of bitterness and mending relationships!
Following Jesus doesn’t mean you will never be angry toward or offended by others, but it does give you the means to reconcile, build better relationships, and not be held prisoner by grudges.
Mark Nickles is a husband, father of three, and a pastor in Northeastern Oklahoma. Copyright, Mark A. Nickles.