Mark Beaird | Books

The Blessings of a Good Grudge

When something bad is done to us we tend to remember it, don't we? And if we think on the wrong and the person who did us wrong, we may start to hold a grudge. Of course, there are ways of handling these people who mistreat us. One fellow that I heard about took matters into his own hands—I don't recommend this—but it was funny.

During the air traffic controllers strike, Terry Paulson, author of "They Shoot Managers, Don't They?" watched a hostile executive bully a baggage handler that was moving as fast as he could. When Paulson tried to share his empathy for having to put up with such abuse, the baggage handler replied, "Don't worry, I've already gotten even." Paulson asked, "What do you mean?" The baggage handler said, "He's going to Chicago, but his bags are going to Milwaukee."

Wouldn't it be nice if God would ignore our retaliation from time to time? We think so, but I really do not think that it would help. Regardless, God will not ignore us retaliating. He holds us to a higher standard. So, there we are, determined to do what is right, but red-hot deep down inside. That is when a grudge starts to develop if we are not watchful.

There's nothing like a good grudge to ruin our day, ruin our outlook, ruin our friendships and ruin our family love and unity. We rehearse it over and over trying to get past it, but all the time it is getting worse. William H. Walton said, "To carry a grudge is like being stung to death by one bee."

A grudge can really ruin our lives. Yet the way people hang onto a grudge, it would tend to make one think that it was a good thing to do. However, in the Old Testament story of Jacob and Esau we can see the problems of holding a grudge. The story is found in Genesis 27 with Jacob stealing his brother's birthright and blessing as the focus of the story. Take time to read it. It is from this story that we can see several important truths about holding a grudge.

First, a grudge makes us unforgiving. In Esau's mind, there was no reason to forgive his brother. Jacob had deceived him not once, but TWICE. I can just hear Esau scream, "He did it to me again! Maybe I could have forgiven him the first time, but he deliberately did it to me again." His feelings toward his brother seemed to be permanently ruined. It's amazing how a heart can be poisoned with hate.

In Esau's mind, there was no reason to forget. In verse 41, "He said to himself, "The days of mourning for my father are near; then I will kill my brother Jacob." In other words, "I'm not going to forget. I can wait. And while I'm waiting you better believe that I will be making plans for you."

Next, a grudge makes us unbending. In Esau's mind, there was only one course of action—murder. A grudge will make us actually avoid better options in favor of holding on to the hurt. If Esau's father, Isaac, had died at that point, there would have been no stopping Esau. What Esau needed was time—time to cool down, time to regain his lost perspective. If he had acted in the heat of anger, he would have regretted it for the rest of his life. But that is exactly what a grudge will do for us. It will get us so hot and bothered that we lash out before we think.

Finally, a good grudge makes us unreasonable. Esau had truly been wronged and had every right to be angry. However, his anger was clouding his judgment.

In running away, Jacob inadvertently gave Esau the time he needed to regain his perspective. You see, grudges do not make sense when one has the proper perspective.

At this point the truth is pretty obvious. There are NO blessings to holding onto a grudge. Esau eventually saw this and let go of his hurt. He was reconciled to his brother and he was the better man for it.

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