It seems that we live in a cultural context that celebrates being offended. It seems like everyone seems to be offended over something. Resentment is like playing with fire, you think that you can control it, but it has a life of its own. The Bible reminds us of the dangers of holding a grudge, also known as resentment.
There are many root causes for resentment in our lives. It could be a result of jealously of another person. It could also be the result of anger over a wrong that has been committed. No matter what the root causes the end result is similar. It robs us of life. More correctly, I should state that we rob ourselves of life. Resentment becomes a prison of our own making. Our cell can only be unlocked by finding our identity in our relationship with Jesus. This is one of many areas that the promises of God have the power to set us free by transforming the way we see life.
Most of us know the story, told by Jesus, of the prodigal son. The younger of two sons sought and received his portion of his inheritance from his father. He would then go on to squander it on loose and careless living. When the money runs out, his “friends” abandon him, and he is faced with the reality of being broke. He comes to his senses and desires to return home seeking a servant’s position in his father’s house. The father who is elated to embrace his son once again throws a party to celebrate his return and that he is alive.
It is in the response of the older brother that we get a glimpse of the danger of resentment. Jesus’ story reveals that he is angry, jealous, unforgiving and above all resentful. “But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’” (Luke 15:28–30)
While the older brother argues that the father was at fault for his response, he fails to see the issue was in his own heart or lack of heart. A lack of love for his father, who would have carried the burden of worry every day the son was gone. A lack of love or concern for his brother who may have died. What he failed to see was that his father’s burden was lifted and his brother was still alive. Resentment is an indicator of a lack of love.
The Apostle Paul reminds us that love “does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;” (1 Corinthians 13:5) If you are struggle with resentment let me encourage you to lean into Jesus. It helps to remember what the Lord has done in your life. “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) He also reminds us that this type of love is the result of a growing relationship with Jesus. “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:5) We also see that it is a byproduct of our spiritual growth.
The older son missed the blessing of the moment. It is said that, “Bitterness is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die!”Let us not react in the same way. Let’s us embrace God’s grace in our own lives and then celebrate as He works in the lives of others, whether we think they deserve it or not!
-Pastor Joe Parkinson