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5 Bible Verses That Will Help Free You from Grudge's Grip

5 Bible Verses That Will Help Free You from Grudge's Grip

Throughout your lifetime, you may witness or fall victim to epidemics or injustice the likes of which the world has seen too much of lately. In the midst of all that darkness, however, we hold onto the knowledge that rays of light always shine through.

For many, one of those rays of light during difficult times is the blessing of a new perspective on an old grudge. 

Most people have nursed a grudge at some point. Whether you’ve been hurt by a loved one’s betrayal or by a co-worker’s unethical behavior on the job, the pain of a personal slight makes the grudge you hold tight feel all the more justified. However, once your indignation subsides, you find that holding onto a grudge only makes you feel worse. 

In fact, stewing over past slights keeps you stuck in the mire of resentment which, in turn, leads you to treat everyone else in your life with an undercurrent of hostility and distrust. It’s no wonder that God commands us to not bear grudges but to love our neighbor as ourselves (Leviticus 19:18). 

If you’re finding it difficult to break free from a grudge’s grip, consider these 5 Bible verses that promote perspective and healing.

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  • 1. You Can Be Angry, but You Can’t Stew in That Anger

    1. You Can Be Angry, but You Can’t Stew in That Anger

    In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.Ephesians 4:26

    God is well-aware that injustice exists in the world and, as such, tells us outright that we’re allowed to be angry (Ephesians 4:26). However, Scripture wisely instructs that we’re to express our anger in a godly manner, and that we’re to reign in those angry feelings quickly.

    There are many reasons not to let angry feelings stew. Anger clouds our judgment by focusing our thoughts on seeking vengeance instead of seeking resolution. While angry people plot and punish, solution-oriented people point out offensive behavior and correct misunderstandings. 

    Another important reason to not let anger consume you is to ward off the physical and emotional problems that develop when anger turns into grudge-holding. Research shows that bearing grudges increases your chances of:

    Last but certainly not least, you should strive to quell your anger towards another because you’re called to love your neighbor and pray for those who persecute you, even if that “other” is acting more like an enemy than a neighbor (Matthew 5:44; Leviticus 19:18).

    In maintaining healthy boundaries with the challenging people you’re called to love, Scripture discourages you from letting hatred for that person build up in your heart. Instead, Scripture encourages you to rebuke your neighbor gently but frankly if he persists in causing strife (Galatians 6:1; Leviticus 19:17).

    This direct method of addressing wrongdoing helps to appease your anger and—hopefully—also helps to restore the wrongdoer. 

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  • 2. Choose to Be Kinder Than You Feel

    2. Choose to Be Kinder Than You Feel

    A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.Proverbs 15:1

    We all know someone who lashes out at everyone in the room when they’re upset, even if the person who caused their anger isn’t actually in that room. An angry person brings tension into any situation, causing others to react defensively. 

    No matter the grudge that you may be grappling with, you don’t have to be that person who causes others to be on their guard or to flee the room the second you set foot in it. Instead, you can choose to be kinder than you feel.

    One way to start acting kinder than you feel is to change the way you speak to those against whom you hold a grudge. Even if it takes counting to ten beforehand, speak to those you harbor resentment against in a reasonable and polite way, instead of speaking to them harshly to hammer home the point that you have something against them.

    Speaking gently to someone you hold hard feelings towards allows them to drop their guard and (hopefully) speak to you politely in return. This will open up an opportunity to be vulnerable in a conversation about how what they did made you feel, if this is appropriate--instead of shutting that person out further.

    After enough of those conversations and/or civil interactions, you may find that your grudge has started to dissipate and that you may even like that person again. As a bonus, once your grudge is resolved, you may also find yourself being kinder generally to everyone else you know.

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  • 3. Consider the Harm That Holding a Grudge Is Doing to Your Household

    3. Consider the Harm That Holding a Grudge Is Doing to Your Household

    The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.Proverbs 14:1

    Harboring grudges can be devastating to a household. In particular, a grudge-holder can become so stressed by the grudges he or she holds that it negatively affects the way that person parents. For example, an angry parent exhibits less patience with his or her children and is quicker to snap and yell. In turn, their children can interpret that stress as something that is their fault, and their self-esteem will suffer for it.

    Stressed parents are also quicker to yell at each other, putting strain on the marriage and causing children to become scared or worried as a result. Moreover, children often imitate their parents’ behavior and may learn to deal with adversity by reacting in anger and holding grudges of their own.

    Family unity can further erode if the children pick sides in a grudge and begin to quarrel with each other. Also, other relatives may not want to pick a side at all and may avoid your household to avoid having to hear about the grudge at issue.  

    Significantly, even if a parent isn’t angered or stressed-out by a grudge, the time that a parent spends dwelling on a grudge means less time spent on fostering an emotionally positive home for a child. Instead, for the sake of your children, push the grudge out the door and get back to focusing on filling your home with warmth, love, and positive coping techniques.  

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  • 4. Steer Clear of Discussions That You Know Will Lead to Quarrels

    4. Steer Clear of Discussions That You Know Will Lead to Quarrels

    Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels.2 Timothy 2:23-25

    You can also wriggle out of a grudge’s grip by starving the grudge. Whether at home, at work, or at a family function, you probably have a good sense of the topics that will rouse those around you into a heated debate that will more likely end in a seething stalemate than in a constructive compromise.

    If no good will come out of discussing a particular subject that you know triggers resentment in you or those around you, steer clear of the discussion in the first place.

    Another way to spot a foolish argument in the making is to notice if a hot-tempered person is at the center of it. As wise King Solomon warns in Proverbs 29, “an angry person stirs up conflict” (Proverbs 29:22). While it may be impossible to completely avoid an argumentative person such as an employer or a relative, you can try to disarm the hothead in your life with a soft answer to turn away his wrath (Proverbs 15:1). 

    In a similar vein, you can keep others from feeding your grudge by steering clear of gossip. Such negative talk can fuel your bitter feelings towards a person or situation, undermining your efforts to extinguish your grudge (Proverbs 26:20). Confiding in a close friend and getting your feelings validated so you can move forward in a godly way is one thing--but gossip will only lead to more strife.

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  • 5. Remember That as You Forgive, You Will Be Forgiven

    5. Remember That as You Forgive, You Will Be Forgiven

    And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.Luke 11:4 

    Stripped down, a grudge is simply a refusal to forgive someone who has wronged you. If you’ve done everything you can to reign in your anger and sidestep the troublemakers in your life and yet you still find yourself enveloped in a grudge, remind yourself of this: Jesus tells us plainly that Our Father’s forgiveness of us will mirror our forgiveness of others (Luke 11:4). 

    As flawed human beings, we’re quick to ask for forgiveness from others but much more unwilling to extend forgiveness. After all, the person who wronged us may have done nothing to deserve our forgiveness.

    In situations where the person who hurt you hasn’t apologized or even acknowledged his wrongdoing, you can choose to show the compassion and humility that God expects you to show in choosing to forgive this person (Colossians 3:12-13). If you find that forgiving the person is still especially difficult, the Bible teaches that a good time to extend forgiveness is during prayer when our thoughts and hearts are united with God (Mark 11:25). 

    It’s important to note that to forgive someone means to consciously let go of the ill-will you hold towards that person for the sake of you moving on from the offense. Forgiveness does not require that you associate with the person who harmed you, especially if that person continues to engage in the hurtful behavior.

    Scripture counsels us to find balance in both forgiving our trespassers (Luke 11:4) and protecting ourselves from danger (Proverbs 22:3). 

    In short, life is too precious to spend it gnashing your teeth at someone else’s bad behavior, especially considering that a grudge often hurts you more than the person you’re holding it against. Instead, turn to the Bible verses above to release a grudge’s hold on you by switching your focus to peace, humility, and forgiveness.

    Dolores Smyth writes about her life’s passions—faith and family. Her work has appeared in numerous publications. You can follow more of her work on Twitter @LolaWordSmyth.

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    Dolores Smyth is a nationally published faith and parenting writer. She draws inspiration for her writing from everyday life. Connect with her over Twitter @byDoloresSmyth.