Holding Grudges

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“Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant as I had on you?”

Matthew 18:33


How could this be happening again?

I felt the well of bitterness and resentment begin to fill in the pit of my stomach. I thought I was past these all-too-familiar negative emotions. I had spent a year dedicating my thought life and insecurities to the Lord and He had changed me. Or so I thought. But here they were again.

As I allowed my circumstances to dictate my emotions, a grudge formed and I held on tight. I allowed my pride to justify my bad attitude by reminding me of all the ways I was doing right, disregarding any shortcomings or areas needing growth.

Holding grudges is hard work. They become heavy and weigh down our hearts, preventing praise from flowing out. Asking the Lord for help letting go, He lead me to Matthew 18:23-35 – the parable of the unmerciful servant.

In this parable, we find a servant who was heavily indebted to a King. When it came time to settle his debt, he couldn’t pay it. He owed A LOT of money. The King could have punished the servant. He could have laid out a payment plan with interest. He could have negotiated the sum to a lower cost. But he didn’t do any of those things. He simply had compassion on the servant and cancelled his debt. Completely. Poof! – gone.

The Lord used the parable to gently remind me of the way He has compassion on me when I mistreat the talents He’s given. I am like the unmerciful servant, indebted and unable to pay. He has compassion on me and cancels my debt. Not because of anything I have done to earn it. Simply because of His loving kindness.

Reflecting on this passage brought to light my lack of humility. Pride encourages me to view myself as more righteous than I am. Humility requires I view others higher than myself.

The servant in Matthew 18 was also influenced by pride. He left the presence of the king and immediately forgot the mercy he just received. after leaving the presence of the King, he encountered a fellow servant to owned him money. He, too, could not pay his debt. This interaction was much different as the unmerciful servant began to choke the one who couldn’t pay and had him thrown into jail.

The King heard what happened and called the servant back to him, saying, “You wicked servant. I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on you fellow servant just as I had on you?” (Matthew 18:32-33) The King sent the servant to prison to be tortured.

Jesus uses this example to describe the slippery slope of pride. The servant who did not extend mercy could not do so without recognizing his own need for it. He immediately forgot the gift of cancelled debt from the King upon seeing the other servant.

We must acknowledge our need for grace before we can extend it to others.

Sadly, we all allow the voice of pride to overspeak the voice of humility from time to time. Rather than showing grace in the face of rudeness, we return the favor with disrespect. We hold a grudge rather than extend forgiveness. We allow our emotions to be negatively influenced by our circumstances, leading us to act from emotion rather than the truth of God, which says,

Forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone.
Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
Colossians 3:13

That morning, I was reminded of my sincere need for merciful forgiveness day in and day out. The Lord’s kindness shines through me as I learn to extend forgiveness to others.

Dear friend, if you find yourself harboring grudges of bitterness and resentment, consider the mercy God has shown you. Allow His compassion to melt your pride into humility, resentment into compassion, and bitterness into gentleness.

Lord, thank you for this reminder of all you have done for us. Your example of compassion and mercy leads us to do the same to those who have offended us. Teach me to embrace humility over pride and let go of grudges I am holding. Amen

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