Peter asked Jesus just how many times he had to forgive someone, and he used the Old Testament number of seven. (Genesis 4:24) But Jesus answered Peter’s question by saying, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” So it’s not really about numbers, it’s more about our response to that transgression against us. When we forgive someone, we’re letting go of resentment…we’re refusing to take offense…and we’re not allowing a root of bitterness to grow. For just as God forgives us, we must forgive others. (Matthew 6:14-15)
The concept in this Scripture is very clear…forgive so that you may be forgiven. So why yet do we find so much pleasure in holding onto grudges? What starts out as a simple miscommunication or disagreement, morphs into something with a life all its own. Anger simmers, and shifts into resentment…frustration stews over how we’ve been wronged, and slowly changes into spite and hard feelings. Holding grudges only harm ourselves…they allow the root of bitterness to take hold and flourish within…and they prevent God from working fully in our lives.
Every once in a while I come across a person who enjoys holding onto bitterness. They recount to me impressive dates and details of past hurts and offenses. They wear these perceived insults as badges, ever brooding over them…playing them over and over in their minds. Pathetically, their vindictiveness and obsession has literally taken over their entire life. This root of bitterness has taken ahold, and grown into an ugly creature that no one can hardly recognize.