“Grudge not, that ye be not grudged.” This statement is obviously a paraphrase of Christ’s command on judging with some license in grammar. (Mt 7:1 KJV) Very early in the Old Testament there were warnings against grudging. (Lev 19:18) Webster’s defines it as, “a feeling of ill will or resentment because of some real or fancied wrong.” It is further explained as, “resenting or envying the good fortune of; and being reluctant to give, grant or allow (credit).” The Holy Spirit in both Peter and James gives instructions not to partake of this sin. (1 Pe 4: 9)(Js 5: 9) Paul adds resentful giving to the list. (2 Cor 9:7)
Some of the helping verbs we use with grudge help us to better understand the nature of grudging. We can: hold, bear, nurse and harbor it. All of these and others show a tendency to cling to a problem that should have been forgiven and allowed to fade away. Harbor is especially descriptive. It is a place of shelter or refuge for anchoring a ship free from winds, waves and currents. When we do this with grudges, we make sure that they will be there when we want to use them. It implies that we mothball them in a safe, handy place in the back or our minds. Nursing has a similar protective meaning.
When grudges are carried for a short or long time they can build up feelings of hate so intense that they can result in attempted or actual murder. Consider the cases of Cain and Abel, (Gen 4:5-8) King Saul and David, (1 Sam 19:10) (1 Sam 18:8) and Saul’s cousin Abner and Joab. (2 Sam 3: 22-39) The last scripture involved a long-time family feud. Nevertheless, God is the only one who can mete out revenge. (Rom 12:19)
When one carries a grudge, I think of keeping a needed document in my wallet for some future use. We can train the brain to bury such feelings by looking to Christ’s teachings. He tells us about the “renewal of our minds.” (Rom 12:2) As we fix our eyes on Jesus (Heb 12:2) we understand more and more the meaning of forgiveness. (Mk 11:25) (Lk 6:37) (Col 3:13) Grudges eat away at our faith and hurt us much more than those against whom they are held.