Grudges are not acceptable before God. He tells us as early as Leviticus 19:18, "You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord" (emphasis added throughout). As if that were not emphatic enough, the apostle Paul later says in Ephesians 4:26-27, "'Be angry, and do not sin': do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil."
The command to not let the sun go down on our wrath is another way of saying, "Don't hold on to what makes you angry." But why? What's wrong with stewing over the frustrating things others have done to us?
God forbids grudges because they foster nothing but bitterness and eventually destruction. We read in Hebrews 12:14-15, "Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled."
Beside, as Paul said, they can give the devil a foothold (Ephesians 4:27, New International Version). Grudges destroy relationships. It is impossible to build or repair any relationship when one side will not let go of something the other has done. And beyond that, grudges destroy us from the inside. When we hold onto grudges, they weigh us down and tear us apart—and the sick irony is that grudges only have the power to do that because we give it to them.
Instead of holding on to grudges and becoming bitter, frustrated individuals, God has called us to a higher standard—that of forgiveness. We need to forgive those who have wronged us as soon as possible, giving up our right for revenge and to hold a grudge. Jesus tells us, "Whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him" (Mark 11:25).
Why? Well, for the reasons previously mentioned, but Christ continues His admonition to its sobering conclusion: "…that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses" (verses 25-26).
Forgiving others and giving up grudges is for our own good!
For more insight, read our booklet Making Life Work.