“what do you do in a situation where you know someone holds a grudge against you that is unfounded?”
Whether or not a grudge is founded or unfounded, there are some pretty clear scriptural guidelines, that we as Christ followers are supposed to follow. In Ephesians 4 we have some pretty good guidelines about what we are supposed to do:
25Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. 26“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27and do not give the devil a foothold. 28He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.
29Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
We need to make sure that we are not talking trash about the person holding the grudge. We need to make sure that we are willing to forgive them for their unfounded anger at us. Paul is writing to the church in Ephesians in regards to how church people treat other church people. So if the grudge holder is a Christian we need to follow these imperatives. And if they are not Christ followers, then we need to be willing to take the first step, really we should always be willing to take the first step for reconciliation.
Anytime we have been offended, we need to be willing to go to that persons (Matthew 18), but I think Paul makes it very clear that we can’t wait to make it right. “DO NOT LET THE SUN GO DOWN ON YOUR ANGER.” Don’t wait for tomorrow. Sometimes we say, we just need to sleep on it, and see if we care in the morning. Sometimes that may be wise, but more often than not, I would say that is unwise. We need to resolve our relational issues as quickly as possible, otherwise, we “Let the devil get a foothold.” Our anger and bitterness that we hold against each other, gives the devil an entryway into our lives.
As we talked about in our Philemon series, sin is anything that breaks relationship first of all with God, and then with other people. If we are allowing our relationships with others to be broken, then we have given the Devil an opportunity to speak into our lives, and to steall the blessings of Christ’s grace from us.
So, go talk to that person. Do everything you can to make it right. Do everything you can to bring the truth into the situation.
Of course, we can only do so much. Sometimes no matter what we do or say that person will still hold onto that grudge. When that happens, then we need to make sure that we are not holding that grudge up again. We need to love them. We need to speak kindly of them. We need to make sure that we are not feeding into their bitterness. And we need to make sure that we do not let ourselves be dragged down into the grudge. You can’t control what the other person does or thinks, but you can control what you do and think.
Grace helps us to walk above the mud of that situation, grace helps us to not play the grudge games. So whatever you do, don’t wait to try to make things right, watch what you say about that person, and be sure to give grace without limit, because Jesus does the same for you.