ODJ: Nursing a Grudge

November 22, 2016 

READ: 2 Samuel 14:25-15:21 

I wish I were the judge. Then everyone could bring their cases to me for judgment, and I would give them justice! (15:4).

Author Marilynne Robinson wrote, “I have always liked the phrase, ‘nursing a grudge,’ because many people are tender of their resentments, as of the things nearest their hearts.”

Typically thought of as a word demonstrating care or nurture, one definition of the verb nurse means “to look after carefully so as to promote growth.” Take that same word and apply it to an offense and the image becomes one of destruction, not redemption. But this truth remains the same: Bitterness, like a frail newborn, must be fed. A dependent emotion, it cannot survive unless tended.

Absalom began nursing bitterness in his heart long before he rallied the people to arms. Hurt and frustrated, he had watched as his sister was victimized and left without vindication (2 Samuel 13:1-22). The family was rife with discord and David, his father, seemed woefully inept at working through conflict. Absalom allowed his wounds to fester into a poisonous and deadly rage. To him, however, his deeds were perfectly justifiable. In his eyes, his father had been unjust, yet he, Absalom, had been rejected (14:28). Determined to right the wrongs, he became judge and vindicator in his own right (15:1-3).

No ordinary defense, the bitter heart is difficult to penetrate (Proverbs 18:19). Our mouths are the gateway through which the enemy perverts not only our vision but also our love (Romans 3:14). The more we rehearse the offense, the stronger the bitterness grows. Eventually, the burden of bitterness becomes our bondage. Letting go of our bitterness doesn’t mean we find immunity from pain. Freedom comes, however, as we draw close to God and learn from His forgiving ways (Ephesians 4:31-32).

—Regina Franklin

365-day plan: Romans 8:19-39

Read Hebrews 12:15 and consider what a root of bitterness can do to you and others. 
In what ways can bitterness corrupt not only our hearts but also our relationships? Why is it vital for you to bring your bitter feelings to God?