The tyranny of the grudge

A few weeks ago, we reflected in worship about the power of forgiveness and also how had it can be to forgive. This meditation by Rev. Gary Ferner, our associate conference minister in the United Church of Christ’s New York Conference, came in a Conference newsletter recently, and I found it really wise and helpful.

So a guest post from Rev. Ferner today! Here it is …

In the 18th chapter of Matthew’s gospel, Jesus tells his disciples, and us, that “… whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

That made me think about the very human penchant to hold grudges when we’ve been hurt, and our reticence to forgive those who have hurt us. Because it seems to me that Jesus is saying that when we hold a grudge against a sibling, that grudge continues to be held over in heaven, and when we forgive, that forgiveness continues in heaven.

I think it would be awful to arrive in heaven with a bundle of grudges against people we didn’t forgive, even though we were given ample opportunity. Even though we have some clear guidance from Jesus on the consequences of binding a grudge here on earth.

Why is it, do you think, that we find it so hard to forgive those who hurt our feelings? What kind of satisfaction do we get when we hold those grudges so tightly?

I’ve always thought of holding a grudge against someone as being a lot like hugging someone wrapped in barbed wire: the harder you hold on, the more you get cut.

Have you ever held a grudge for a long time? What did that feel like?

Have you ever forgiven someone, even if they didn’t ask for forgiveness? What did that feel like?

Have you ever been the target of a grudge?

Have you ever been forgiven, even though you didn’t ask to be forgiven?

These are some of the things I’ve been thinking about since reading the Matthew passage.

I’m going to think about letting go of some of the grudges I’ve been holding onto, and forgiving those who have hurt me, even if they didn’t ask for forgiveness, even if they don’t even know they’ve hurt me.

I hope you might try to do the same.


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