Keeping a Grudge...It's Costly

Last Sunday the words Jesus spoke in Matthew 6:14-15 were shared: [Jesus said,] “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” A couple of people have asked clarification about this verse. As I said Sunday, I don't think there is a perfect way to clarify what Jesus was saying; but we do know what He was not saying. He is not saying our forgiveness (salvation) is dependent upon our ability to forgive someone else. When Jesus made this comment he was teaching on prayer, not salvation. 

So...what was He saying? Let me share with you a story from my past that might help. When I turned 16 I got my driver's license and my parents bought me a 1980 Oldsmobile Omega. Along with the privilege of driving came new responsibilities and boundaries. I could drive anywhere, but I had to buy my own gas and I had a curfew I was expected to keep. As you might imagine, I pushed the limit on my curfew. I started coming in later and later. Finally, one night I came in 15 minutes late. My dad met me at the door and took my car keys away from me. I lost the privilege of driving for one week. I still had my driver's license. I still had my car. The privilege of driving was taken from me even though I was still a legal driver in the state of Alabama. I had legal status but I lost my privilege. 

Not forgiving someone works much the same way. I can choose to keep a grudge, but when I do I lose some privileges that come with God's grace. I don't lose my salvation. I don't lose my adoption into God's family. I don't even lose the forgiveness for my sins, but I do lose the privilege of experiencing forgiveness and the relief that comes from being forgiven. I lose the ability to have confidence that God is forgiving me. I'm sure there are many other privileges that are lost, but the point is my salvation and relationship with God is still in tact. 

Being 15 minutes late cost me a week's worth of driving (that's 10,080 minutes!). When we choose to not forgive someone, we may gain "15 minutes" of self-righteous indignation. However, it costs way more than it's worth.