Summary: A sermon about letting go of bitterness and embracing forgiveness.
Are you holding a grudge? A grudge? You know, you can’t physically see it but hidden in your heart is something of substance. Something you have a tendency to hang onto, even hold close. It’s a resistance. It’s reluctance. It’s a rebellion, and it’s resentment. You know you should forgive and forget but you don’t and you won’t. Why? It’s because it’s so easy to hold onto a grudge. In fact, in some circles, one is actually expected to hold a grudge. In fact, in some circles of society, you compare your grudge with someone else’s grudge and compete to discover who holds the greater grudge. What do you mean Pastor Bob?
I mean for some of you it happened last week. You were told by a friend to meet him/her at a restaurant. You drove to the restaurant where you sat and waited. The waiter even approached you a couple of times asking, “Hey, are you meeting somebody? Do you want to order now?” “Oh no, they’re going to be here, they’re going to be here, they’ll be here. I--I trust them, they’ll be here.” And guess what? They weren’t there. In fact, they never showed up. In fact, they never even called and now you’ve got a grudge.
They called you later, “Hey you okay?” “Yeah I’m fine, I’m fine.” “Were you not going to call me?” “I’m calling you now. ‘I’m really sorry.’” “Oh sorry, thank you very much.” “You mean you don’t forgive me? Well?” “Well what? Well, I’m just holding onto my grudge.”
And you’re still holding it right now. It’s in your hand, you walked into church, “Hi!” You started worshipping the Lord, “Hi!” Some of you are wearing it on your sleeve, “Hello!” You’ve got your grudge.
Maybe for you it wasn’t a canceled appointment. No, maybe you shared something really secret with a friend and it was so secret you even made a pinkie promise. Two days ago, a friend who is a mutual friend says, “Oh, I heard. Yeah, she told me what you said.” I said, “Excuse me? Pardon me?” “Yeah, I know how you felt because you know, she said...” “Wait a minute what did she say?” Calling your friend, you exclaim, “I can’t believe you broke a confidence! I thought we were friends. I had no idea you were going to do that. I will never share a secret with you, ever again!”
Got a grudge, do you? No, my grudge is a little different. Did you ever buy something…? I bought a TV just before Christmas last year from a department store.
When I took it out of the box, it had a dent in it that bothered me. I called the store and said, “There’s a dent in my new TV.” “We’ll send out a service man.” You know, it has been a nightmare dealing with this company. And right now, I have promised to never buy anything from that store again.
Shared a secret? Appointment didn’t show? Buy a product? How about this one? You do something nice for someone and they don’t say thanks. Did you ever do that?
Wives, have you ever made a big dinner, a roast? Last Sunday, you put something in the oven. You actually used the oven, a real oven, not a microwave. When your roast was done, you brought it out to serve your family and then, you waited. No one said anything. They’re cutting the meat. “Yea, it’s a roast. I made a roast.” “Oh that’s great babe. That’s great.” What happened in your heart? “I can’t believe they didn’t say anything at all. See if I ever cook again!”
“That oven can stay off for another year. I don’t care! My evil and wicked kids are so ungrateful!” “Wait, stop it! Can you just…?” “No, I can’t drop it! You want me to drop my grudge? Leave it? Let it go?” “Yeah, can you just drop it?” “No, I can’t!”
No, you can’t and you won’t. “No, I could, I just don’t want to.” Do you know why you don’t want to drop your grudge? Listen, here’s why. Some people won’t drop their grudge because they would run out of things to say and have nothing to talk about. If you drop your grudge, you might actually have to say nice things. “You mean I couldn’t be obnoxious anymore, bugging people about what I’m bugged by? What would I do with my time? Who would I call? I can’t imagine picking up the phone, ‘Hi, what’s going on?’ That can’t be good. I’ve to have my grudge back!”
“Well, let me tell you what happened. My son-in-law came over last week and I made a big meal. My daughter’s sitting right there.” “Oh you think that’s something? Let me tell you what happened to me.” It’s easy, it’s expected. Why? Here’s why.