Nursing a Grudge

The One Year® Chronological Bible, NKJV (Tyndale, 2013), October 9

imagesJohn the Baptist confronts Herod for taking his brother’s wife as his own—“It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife” (Mk. 6:18). His wife Herodias takes offense and begins to seek his death (6:19). Herodias plots her revenge. She watches and waits for an opportune moment to have John the Baptist killed. This scene challenges the reader to stop and ask, “What is a grudge?” “What are the signs or symptoms of nursed grudges?”

First, the question, “What is a grudge?” It is a persistent resentment toward another person for a past offense (word or deed, real or perceived). It is unforgiveness and guilt that look for an opportunity to strike back.

Second, “What does it mean to ‘nurse’ a grudge?” Nurses assess the physical and emotional state of patients; they plan the road to recovery and then implement and change those steps as they continually evaluate the patients’ progress. Those who nurse grudges do the same things as a nurse—only, the grudge becomes their patient. And their goal is not a return to health, but death. They nurture their offense by rehearsing it repeatedly. They mental-script or plot various conversations and encounters where they destroy the perpetrator. They obsess about the slight or offense and aren’t happy until they’ve carried out their plans to ruin the perpetrator.

That’s exactly what Heriodias does. John the Baptist exposes the unrighteousness of her relationship with Herod, and she refuses to let it go. She replays it in her mind so often that it becomes the focus of her life. She uses the good that she has—her daughter—to accomplish the evil that she loves—revenge.

In Herodias’ case, as in every case of grudge-bearing, the cost of her revenge outweighs the benefit. Her daughter is compromised morally to satisfy her mother’s bitterness; her daughter is promised half a kingdom, but receives instead only the head of a prophet on a platter; Herodias herself dies a bitter woman, a postscript in the annals of eternity to the cost of holding a grudge.

There are two types of grudges, but only one method to deal with them both:

  1. Resentment occurs when someone has been falsely accused; resentment turns into a grudge when the resentment isn’t taken to the cross. The victim is released only when he surrenders his right to be angry and acknowledges that God alone avenges wrong.
  2. Resentment occurs when someone is confronted for the wrong that he has committed. Instead of humbling himself and confessing his guilt, he becomes resentful and plots his revenge. The guilty is released only as he acknowledges his sin against God (and others) and repents.

No grudge is righteous. Nursing grudges derails those who nurse them.

Questions from today’s chronological Bible reading (Lk. 9:7-17; Mk. 6:14-56; Mt. 14:1-36; Jn. 6:1-21):
What does Jesus’ response to His disciples regarding feeding the multitude, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat” (Mt. 14:16), force them to do? What does Jesus do with the little that they have? What lesson do they learn from Christ regarding their situation and His supply?
How does the crowd respond to Jesus after He feeds them? What does this reveal about hungry crowds and those who take advantage of them?
Why do the disciples panic during the storm? How had Jesus prepared them beforehand?