Grudge Match



Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you. 

Jesus, I belong to you.

I lift up my heart to you.
I set my mind on you.
I fix my eyes on you.
I offer my body to you as a living sacrifice.

Jesus, we belong to you. 

Praying in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, amen. 

Matthew 5:23–24

“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.”


I’m a huge college football fan. My friends and family look forward to the start of a new football season months before it begins and we talk about the highlights and the near misses months afterward. I’ve also noticed an interesting phenomenon that happens close to a new season. Battle lines begin to be drawn. When late summer arrives, the team jerseys come out and the big talk of past beatdowns gets thrown around like challenge flags. I’ve seen the same behavior in people who hold grudges for past hurts and emotional injuries. When we hold grudges, we draw battle lines, and we unearth buried pain just to put it on and carry it around like team jerseys.

Yesterday we focused on not withholding forgiveness, but actually paying forward the forgiveness as a response to our relationship with Christ. Today, we go a step further. In our passage, Jesus is preaching His Sermon on the Mount. In this teaching, He points back to the human behavior addressed by the law in the Old Testament and He gives it new meaning. Jesus recounts, “You have heard it said you shall not murder, but I say that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will face the same judgment” (Matt. 5:21–22, author’s paraphrase). In a twist on previous commands, Jesus tells us to reconcile with the person before we bring our offering to God.

Our relationship with others affects our relationship with our Lord. It is the evidence of our heart and our holiness. How can we pursue holiness if we are holding a grudge? As the famous saying goes, holding a grudge is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. Surrendering forgiveness may mean you have to let go first and let the response of the other person remain with God.

In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul tells the believers to pursue restoration immediately because the longer we hold our anger, the more space we give the enemy to do his work. “‘In your anger do not sin’: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold” (Eph. 4:26–27). It begs the question, for whom are we making space? During Lent, we’ve focused on building an altar with our lives to create space to encounter God, but Jesus teaches that holding on to the pain another has caused us creates space for the enemy to work.

The enemy loves to destroy relationships, especially within the body of Christ because it can tear at the fabric of our community and our effectiveness to reach others with the good news of Jesus. It takes one person to forgive, but it takes two to reconcile, and in reconciliation, Jesus exchanges peace for pain. “For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace” (Eph. 2:14–15). So, it’s time to take off the jersey and lay down the grudge so that through the Holy Spirit, we are made one in Christ.


Lord, show us if any of our brothers or sisters have something against us. Lead us to take the first step toward reconciliation so that we may worship You with a full and free heart. Amen.


Why is it your responsibility to seek reconciliation first and not wait for the other person? Who do you need to reconcile with before bringing your offering to God?

For the Awakening,
Susan Kent 

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WHAT IS THIS? Wake-Up Call is a daily encouragement to shake off the slumber of our busy lives and turn our eyes toward Jesus. Each morning our community gathers around a Scripture, a reflection, a prayer, and a few short questions, inviting us to reorient our lives around the love of Jesus that transforms our hearts, homes, churches, and cities.

Comments and Discussion

5 Responses

  1. This is one of those lessons that cannot be ignored without putting one’s own eternal destiny at risk. The warning that Jesus gives after the prayer that he gives to his disciples at the conclusion of the “Lord’s prayer “ (Matthew 6:14-15), and the parable of the the unforgiving servant (Matthew 18:23-35) make it abundantly clear that holding a grudge is a luxury that true Christ followers cannot afford. This in opinion, is just as serious as the damage that can take place in destroying the unity of the Spirit within the Body of Christ by withholding forgiveness to someone who harmed you through their words or actions.

  2. A grudge doesn’t match a Christian. True relationships are heart-connections. When hearts harden relationships break. A tender, Spirit-led heart can often soften a hardened heart. When you talk to God, notice what you remember. If a broken relationship comes to your mind approach the person with love, humbly seeking reconciliation.

    Show that you care about and value the person, even if you feel like they don’t care about and value you. If you’ve done anything that brought them offence, communicate sincere apology and remorse, verbally and physically demonstrate sorrow and repentance, and directly ask for their forgiveness.

    Let go of both shame and blame so God can mend your heart and the other person’s. You can’t always completely restore a relationship, but you can soften your heart so that you can more freely open up to and surrender to the presence of the risen Jesus.

  3. Forgiving another is a beautiful premise when we want forgiveness from another. But, when we are the culprit, we hesitate to ask someone to forgive us. Facing guilt is tough, so we’ll even sift blame towards them, thereby justifying our actions.

    Genesis 3:12
    The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.”

    Adam blamed the woman and God for his choice of eating the fruit.

    By asking another for forgiveness, we take responsibility and ownership for our hurtful choices, which have negatively affected our relationships with others and God.
    Offering forgiveness to another is an extension of love. Forgiving another allows them to accept a love offering, allowing them to be released from resentment.
    Forgiveness is an offensive spiritual weapon that heals.
    Jesus knew so.

    Luke 23:34
    And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments.

    Stying 💪’n Christ
    Ephesians 6:10
    Finally, be strong IN the Lord and IN His mighty power.

  4. Do you really mean, “Jesus exchanges peace for pain”? Are you referring to his life given as a sin offering? Exchanging pain for peace is the human concept……wars usually conclude with a peace treaty, but still there is loss.

  5. The line that says it takes one to forgive and two to reconcile is insightful. I have sought reconciliation but the other party refuses. That’s an angle that this entry does not address and few sermons I have heard address. Yes forgive. Yes seek reconciliation. But when the other party would rather hold the grudge, then what? Do you let it go knowing that you have done your part?

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