Many times, people do things to us or someone we love that can cause bitterness or resentment towards that person. We have this anger and hatred towards a person because of their words or actions and we hold the grudge against them. Sometimes it is more than a grudge, a scar they may leave depending on the damage done. In any case, bitterness or hatred towards another human is existent all the time. But how do we handle that? What are we supposed to do with our emotions? What does God say about these people who wrongfully hurt us? Let’s find out.
Bitterness or having resentment towards another person is obviously looked down upon from a biblical standpoint. Paul says in Ephesians 4:31, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior.” It is evident that any anger we have towards another person needs to be subsided and is not good in the eyes of God. We are also supposed to love all people and Paul makes a clear case in 1 Corinthians 13 that envy or resentment is not love, it is the exact opposite. But you may be saying, “You have no idea what this person did to me. It is unforgivable. You can’t love a person like that.” Depending on the severity of the situation, these emotions are all understandable. The main point I want to introduce here is a radical idea of love that Jesus himself introduced. It is a love that we are meant to follow and it is the only real love that can overcome resentment. Let’s discover what Jesus says.
In Mark 11:25, Jesus is instructing on prayer and he gives this hard-to-swallow tip for praying. “But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.” This also goes along with his teaching in the sermon on the mount in Matthew 6, “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.” This is a hard teaching to comprehend. God sees forgiveness so seriously, that we must forgive others to be forgiven ourselves. If we have a grudge against someone, we must forgive them, no matter how hard it may be. We do not have to be best friends but forgiveness in our hearts, leads to forgiveness from the Father.
Even though we may not like to think about it, Jesus died for everyone. 1 John 2:2 and Hebrews 2:9 confirm this. Since Jesus died for everyone, that includes the person you resent the most and have hatred towards. This also means that Jesus died for you too. All of your sins, all of your shortcomings are forgiven as well. Since Jesus died for everyone, everyone is equally deserving of forgiveness because we have all fallen short (Romans 3:23). If you have been forgiven, that person also deserves to be forgiven and if Jesus can forgive us, we can forgive others.
In conclusion, bitterness and resentment only leads to sin. It doesn’t lead to happiness or joy, but only clouded emotions that are buried deep in the past. We need to start forgiving those who have wronged us just as Christ forgave us. It can be difficult and challenging and seem impossible. But if we remember that Jesus forgave us and showed us that grace, we can then show that same forgiveness and grace to others.