So You’re Holding a Grudge?

angerEvery Christian knows about forgiveness.  Forgiveness is what we come to Jesus for.  It is through forgiveness that we find freedom, peace, and ultimately, God.  We celebrate forgiveness because of what it has done for us.  Yet, there is a side of forgiveness that we sometimes don’t talk a lot about.

Jesus said, “… if you do not forgive your brother his trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matt 6:14-15).

There, you have it.

If we want to enjoy the forgiveness of God when we sin, we have to forgive others when they sin against us.  Jesus deliberately linked our obedience in forgiving others, to how God will forgive us.

Illustrating this point even further, Jesus once told a story of a king who was settling accounts (Matt 18:21-35).  A man was brought to a king who owed an exorbitant amount of money.  The man threw himself down at the king’s feet and begged for more time to pay the debt. Suddenly, the king was moved with compassion for the man. More than giving him additional time, the king forgave the entire debt! The man walked from the king’s presence totally debt free.

Soon, however, the man encountered a fellow-servant who owed him a relatively small amount of money. The man demanded payment and the fellow-servant did exactly what had been done in the king’s presence just a short time ago: he threw himself down and begged for mercy. However, the first man did not give mercy. Rather, he insisted upon his right to have the debt paid and demanded that his fellow servant be thrown into prison until the amount of money was paid in full.

Word of his actions reached the king, and the man was recalled to the king’s court.  When the king confirmed the rumor of the man’s unmerciful behavior, he reacted by placing the man back under his debt. It was as if the king had said to him, “Shame on you. How dare you refuse to show just a little mercy when so much had been shown to you. Shame on you.”

Even before Jesus had explained the parable, it’s easy to see its meaning.  You and I are the man who had been forgiven much. Yet, when we encounter others who have harmed us far less than we had harmed God, we often act without mercy and compassion.  We insist upon our rights, while at the same time hope that God does not insist on His rights against us.  We selfishly believe that that which has been done against us is more important than what was done against God. In essence, we believe that our prerogatives are greater than God’s.

So, if you’re a person who enjoys the forgiveness that God has given you, yet you still hold grudges against those who have harmed you, the story Jesus told should have special meaning. Your debt is being returned to you. You may already be hearing the words:

How dare you refuse to show mercy when so much had been shown to you.

Shame on you… shame on you.



Dane Cramer is a backpacker, Christian blogger, jail chaplain, amateur filmmaker, and author of two books: Romancing the Trail and The Nephilim: A Monster Among Us



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