As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.” Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them. (Genesis 50:20–21, ESV)
The dictionary defines grudge as a “feeling of ill will or resentment.” Anyone come to mind? Some of us have been hurt in such a way that we perceive the “right” to be angry and to hold onto bitterness. They stung so I shall now sting back. I refuse to let it go. There’s a feeling like I’m entitled to be mad for as long as I deem necessary.
The biblical character Joseph could have chosen this path, yet he didn’t. He realized such a road is wrought with peril and, ultimately, spiritual ruin. You cannot cling to grudges and linger in the presence of the Almighty.
Joseph’s brother’s despised him for the special favor bestowed upon him by their father. They kidnapped Joseph, threw him in a pit and were prepared to let him die there. A last-minute idea prompted them to sell him to passing slave traders. You probably know the rest. Joseph was sold to a government official in Egypt and continued a life of joys and heartaches, of successes and what seemed like devastating setbacks. However, after the dust settled, he was the vice-president of Egypt and his brothers came from their famine stricken land to his palace begging for food.
What did Joseph do? He had the power and opportunity to strike back. He could have vented years of pent up bitterness and hurt. He could have showed them and gotten the proverbial last laugh. Yet he chose to forgive. Not only did he show them kindness by giving them food, he allowed the entire extended family to move into Egypt under his care. I believe that, long before Joseph saw the gaunt faces of his brothers and heard the rumble of their empty stomaches, he had chosen to forgive. We don’t know when. We don’t know if there were sleepless nights as he fought with God about his right to be mad, his right to hate. But somewhere by God’s grace, he decided not to hold a grudge for the awful things his siblings had done.
May we know what it is to forgive as we have been forgiven. May we refuse to allow our lives to be destroyed by “the grudge”. May we remember the great lengths our God went to forgive us, for his forgiveness was very costly. With God’s grace we can turn from bitterness. We can refuse to hold a grudge.