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A Begrudging Virtue

Leviticus 19:18
“You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.”

If you try to cling to Christ with one hand and hold to a grudge in the other, you’ll get pulled apart before long. That’s a proverb as old as time, isn’t it? It’s been parabolized in whimsical nursery rhymes and paraded on theatrical stages and flashed on the big screen over and over again. Yet even with such a preponderance of warnings, grudges haven’t lost any of their intrinsic pull, have they? Every one of us has a story to tell of betrayal or heartbreak or broken trust or abuse or persecution from someone we called ‘brother.’ We’ve all come face to face with that inner instinct toward vengeance. We’ve lost sleep at night pondering what string of verbs and adjectives to use in that angry letter, what accusations to file in the lawsuit, how we might get even without getting caught. But therein lies the problem. A grudge doesn’t have to do anything. It’s very existence within our fancies means the damage is already done.

Have you ever had a friend leave your church under ugly circumstances, spew horrible lies about the pastors and ministry leaders on their way out, and you let out an inaudible sigh of delight when you got news that their new church-plant had closed its doors? Have you ever had a boss or a professor give you grief due to your faith, and harass you consistently, and make you look foolish in front of your peers, and you rejoiced when you heard that he finally got booted from his job? We aren’t satisfied until that eye-for-an-eye retribution is met. Yet, even then, the grudge remains, doesn’t it? It doesn’t go away, it just changes face a little. It morphs from an inner frown to a you-had-it-coming sort of smirk, but it’s costly to our countenance either way.

Christian, we’ve got to let go of the grudges! We’ve got to let Christ take our hand and show us how to love without vengeance and how to bear other’s burdens without keeping a chip on our shoulder. We don’t need more proverbs or devotionals like these to prove the point. We simply need to trust the LORD, and obey His Word, and choose the better way.