Will God Forgive Me for Holding a Grudge?

Will God Forgive Me for Holding a Grudge?

From the very beginning, the devil has worked overtime to bring separation between God and His creation.  This started in the Garden of Eden and immediately following the sinful choice of Adam and Eve to eat from the forbidden fruit, division entered their marriage.  The first two humans, as a result of their sin, experienced separation from God and as a result—division between one another.  That same pattern of division has infected all types of relationships, not just marriage.  What happens when someone sins against us or offends us in some way, is it acceptable to hold a perpetual grudge?  Will God accept me if I reject others?

Is God Holy?

In order to answer this question, it’s essential to ask ourselves a very important question and then answer it from the pages of Scripture.  Is God holy?  Is God like us?  Is God distinct from us?  As we examine the revelation of God from the pages of Scripture, we come to learn that He is distinct, separate from us, and higher than His creation.  In short, God is holy.  Regarding God’s holiness, we must learn two things:

  1. One upon a time, God’s holiness rejected us as sinners.
  2. Only in God’s holiness is it possible for us to be reconciled to God.

Has God Forgiven You for Your Sins?

When we read of God’s holiness, it’s a truly terrifying thing.  Consider the scene that God paints for us in Isaiah 6 where the enthroned God is seen in the vision by the prophet Isaiah.  Helpless and guilty sinners in the presence of an all consuming holy God is a terrifying thing, unless we are embraced in God’s love through His Son Jesus Christ.  As we continue to read the Bible, we see that God not only possess a hot wrath for sinners, but He is also a merciful God who loves to forgive sinners.  We see this in the love of the Father sending the Son who died for us in love (John 3:16).  Consider the vast love of God who reconciles guilty sinners by sending His Son to die in their place (Rom. 5:6-11).  Who does this?  What kind of God is this according to the Bible?  Simply put, our God is a God of mercy, love, forgiveness, and reconciliation.  There is no other god like Him.

Is Holding a Grudge Sinful?

All through the Bible, we see the clear teaching of unity.  God demands unity among His people and within His church.  The teaching of unity is built upon a firm foundation of God’s grace, and therefore, God demands, expects, and commands us to strive for unity.  Nothing else will be acceptable.  God will not forgive you for holding a grudge in perpetuity.  If you refuse to forgive others, God will not forgive you.  What exactly was Jesus teaching in Matthew 6:14-15?  Jesus said, “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

The Mandate of Forgiveness and Unity in Christ

In his Systematic Theology, Wayne Grudem addresses the issue of unity by writing:

Paul can command the church to live in unity because there already is an actual spiritual unity in Christ which exists among genuine believers. He says, “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all, who is above all and through all and in all” (Eph. 4:4–6). And though the body of Christ consists of many members, those members are all “one body” (1 Cor. 10:17; 12:12–26). [1]

The facts remain, God has mandated the horizontal forgiveness of others under the reality that we have experienced this glorious vertical forgiveness from Him.  If we have received the forgiveness of sins through Jesus Christ, who are we to withhold forgiveness from others (Eph. 4:32)?  In Colossians 3:12-17, Paul makes this point clear.  He writes, “bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive” (Col. 3:13).

As we follow Christ, we are to follow Him in acts of forgiveness.  Our calling within the church is to bear with one another and to forgive each other as we strive for unity among the brethren.  Charles Spurgeon once said the following:

Satan always hates Christian fellowship; it is his policy to keep Christians apart. Anything which can divide saints from one another he delights in. He attaches far more importance to godly intercourse than we do. Since union is strength, he does his best to promote separation. [2]

Will God forgive you for holding a grudge?  No—He will not.  However, if you’re a true Christian, you demonstrate the reality of your faith by how you forgive others and the priority you place on unity within the church.  When you forgive others and repent of holding a grudge, you can expect your Heavenly Father to forgive you too.  Therefore, do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil (Eph. 4:26-27).  That’s a message for the church as a whole—not just your marriage.

  1. Wayne A. Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; Zondervan Pub. House, 2004), 876.
  2. Charles Spurgeon, Spiritual Warfare in a Believer’s Life, ed., Robert Hall, (Lynwood, Washington: Emerald Books, 1993), 115.

Murder vs. Slander – Who Is Most Righteous?

This past Sunday, Dr. Tiller (a controversial abortion doctor) was gunned down in an act of cold blooded murder. He was undoubtedly guilty of killing many babies who were nestled in their mother’s womb awaiting birth. Although the Christian world should condemn the actions of Tiller, the Christian community should likewise condemn the action of Tiller’s murderer. Both are wrong. However, as it comes to the issue of murder, while we consider the actions of Tiller to be unjust and wicked acts of murder, do we as Christians condemn Tiller and others like him while condoning our own slanderous tongue?How often do we hear a message preached and think of someone who should have been present to hear it? How often do we compare ourselves to other people as if they are the measuring stick in eternity? We are all guilty of this type of thing at some level. If we were honest with ourselves, we often hear of specific crimes and sins being committed, and we size up our spiritual condition by comparing ourselves to that person. Even if we say, “God, thank you that I am not like that person.” In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus provided a point to his hearers that is extremely convicting. As we consider the words of Christ in Matthew 5:21-26 – we need to ask ourselves this question: Who is more guilty before God and deserving of Hell, the murderer or the unjust angry slanderer?First, we see clearly that the murderer is guilty before God. That is obvious from the Law of God (Thou shalt not kill) and is written on the heart of sinful man – that we should not take the life of another human being. To commit murder is a hard sin. However, when it comes to something like anger – it is extremely easy to commit. To be angry at someone and lose your temper is almost a daily event. As Christ points out, the anger usually builds from unjust anger to slander and then to the height of slander – calling someone a fool (a Godless person).Jesus is providing two clear points. First, He wants everyone to know that the heart of the murderer is unjust anger. Nobody would commit murder if they were not full of unjust anger. However, as the passage of Scripture continues, it is clear that the most convicting point of His message is that the one who is guilty of unjust anger is just as deserving of Hell fire as a person who commits murder. In other words, to be a person who slanders another person’s name and character is to be guilty before God and deserving of Hell fire – just like the murderer. Jesus points out that it should be reconciled immediately to avoid the consequences of the sin.The clear application of this text to us today is that we should avoid measuring ourselves against other people. We must realize that we will be measured by God’s Word and nothing less. We must also realize that moral upright citizens who have never murdered or robbed a bank often have an elevated opinion of themselves. Slanderers are guilty before God just as murderers.The caution that we should heed in this text is also extremely clear:1. Unjust anger and slander can pervert our worship toward God. Jesus paints a vivid picture of Old Testament worship. Christ says that if you are bringing your offering before God (most likely a sacrifice in the Old Testament setting – possibly on the day of Atonement) and you realize that there is a problem between you and another individual, you should leave the offering and go seek reconciliation. After reconciliation takes place – then you should return and offer the gift to God.In our present day setting, we should be mindful of our praise, prayer, money, and other worship offerings that we bring each week before God. If we are not right with someone – we need to reconcile things before we continue worship. If we avoid reconciliation – we will bring perverted worship before God.2. Unjust anger and slander hinder relationships. Relationships are important and should be protected. If problems stand between two individuals – reconciliation should be pursued in order to mend the fences and reclaim unity that only the Spirit of God can provide. If reconciliation is not sought, the consequences both temporal (here in this life) and before God (on the day of judgment) must be received.Therefore, even if we have been wronged – we must seek reconciliation and forgive others just as God (through Christ) has forgiven us.For the glory of God!Pastor Josh Buice