I was in a small store not too long ago and as I was waiting to be cashed out, I noticed a basket of bracelets and necklaces on the counter. I saw one I thought I would like, so I picked up one strand and the entire bunch came with it! The clerk apologized and said they had been so busy they had not had time to untangle them. I asked if they would mind if I tried and she said they would be thrilled. It only took about 5 minutes and I had them all straightened out. As I worked, I was thinking about how much fun that is for me to figure out what goes where, what’s twisted here, what should go the other way.
That led me to thinking about our personal relationships and how twisted up they can get. How one day of misunderstanding can ruin an entire relationship. The worst part is we tend to leave the mess in the basket and not try to sort it out. In fact, sometimes we actually nurse that kind of grudge. As we age and look back, we realize that one twist, one effort, one word, or gesture could have untangled the whole mess, but we didn’t do it. It’s not nice to look back on that. Fixing it now is often impossible.
The sisters of Lazarus, Mary and Martha, had a little contretemps over preparing dinner. Jesus took Mary’s side and that had to hurt, but these women were disciples of Jesus and if they learned anything, they learned to love one another. Chances are good that they solved their issue quickly because of His influence.
What about us? Does Jesus influence our behavior? The dictate to love one another includes forgiving one another. We speak of skeletons in closets. That doesn’t always mean crimes; it can mean grudges. It means those big grudges, lifetime grudges that we take out and pet and feed and keep alive. I might go so far as to say that this is a disease like alcoholism or drug addiction. We have to have it. In a sick kind of way, we enjoy it. No one can truly love and follow Christ and still carry something like this around. Everyone knows that the person holding the grudge is more burdened than the object of his or her anger. What’s worse, and, frankly ridiculous, is that the object often has no idea about the grudge against them.
When we carry a grudge, we shut Jesus out. The sad thing is, Jesus is the only answer to ending this. Jesus is God, and God is love and there is no room for grudges. Prayer will help in finding the strand that will untangle the whole thing.
I know whereof I speak. I carried a grudge for years. I prayed constantly for Jesus to relieve me of it, until the day I realized it was up to me to find the strand that would unravel the whole thing. Once I did, the peace promised by Christ was mine.