We are going to discuss a problem that is responsible for the poisonous attitude that we have in our society.  It is the problem of “holding grudges.”  Grudges are causing great physical, emotional, and spiritual damage to our society.

Read this passage with me.  Moses writes in Genesis 45:1-5, “Joseph could stand it no longer. There were many people in the room, and he said to his attendants, “Out, all of you!” So he was alone with his brothers when he told them who he was…  Then he broke down and wept. He wept so loudly the Egyptians could hear him, and word of it quickly carried to Pharaoh’s palace … “I am Joseph!” he said to his brothers. “Is my father still alive?” But his brothers were speechless! They were stunned to realize that Joseph was standing there in front of them  … “Please, come closer,” he said to them. So they came closer. And he said again, “I am Joseph, your brother, whom you sold into slavery in Egypt … But don’t be upset, and don’t be angry with yourselves for selling me to this place. It was God who sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives.”

Let me give you a quick background of this passage.  Jacob had 12 sons.  One of them was Joseph.  He was his father’s favorite son.  His brothers were jealous.  They lured him out and tossed him in a pit.  They sold him to slave traders.  They killed an animal and put the blood on Joseph’s multi-colored coat.  They told Jacob that he had been killed.  Joseph was taken to Egypt and through a series of events, he wound up as the #2 person in charge of Egypt.

His brothers came from Israel to Egypt during a famine to get food.  They were brought before Joseph.  He recognized them in this passage even though it had been years.  He had a choice.  Would he be bitter, or would he choose to be better and forgive?  The choice was his to make.

If we were Joseph, we would be tempted to do differently!  We would want vengeance by committing an act of violence that would bring harm to the party who had wronged us.  We would want to get even.

Our society is full of this at the present time.  Everyone nurses a grudge and holds something against someone.  Grudges come from what we perceive that other people do to us. When we think we have been wronged through a word, look, or action, that is when a grudge develops in our mind.  It brings disastrous results.  Should be surprised at the atrocities we are seeing between politicians and opposition sides in our secular conflict?

We need to emulate Joseph.  Joseph is one of the most beautiful illustrations of forgiveness in the Bible.  He could have killed his brothers, but he forgave them.  He was overcome by love for his brothers.  He was not angry with them and told them not to feel guilty.  He knew God had a hand on his life and was guiding him through all of the events that he had experienced.

We need to “gang up” on our grudges with the help of God and “team-up” with Him to beat the grudge down to nothing so that hold that grudge no longer.  To “gang up” is a slang term that means uniting in opposition to someone or something. To “team-up” means to “to join with someone to work together.”  So, we trust God with His power to obliviate the grudge from our mind.

We need to do our part first.  We need to forgive if we have been nursing a grudge even if it has been for years.  Jesus tells us to do this in Mark 11:25 when he says, “But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.”  The immediate result is that you are made right with Jesus through His forgiving you.

Forgiving a grudge brings miracles in behavior.  Greg Asimakoupoulos found this illustration of forgiveness in an article by Robert Black in the San Francisco Examiner (11-7-99).  He reports the following incident.  The parents of Matthew Shepard, the young gay man who was murdered in Wyoming in 1998, rejoiced over the guilty verdict reached by a Laramie jury in November 1999. The judge told a packed courtroom that the jury’s verdict “showed true courage” and sent a message that violence is not the solution to differing views on sexual orientation.

Courtroom observers were not prepared for what Dennis and Judy Shepard did next. After waiting 13 months for a guilty verdict for their son’s killers, Matthew Shepard’s parents asked the judge to spare the lives of Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson by giving them life sentences rather than the death penalty.

According to attorney Cal Rerucha, who prosecuted the case, “They (the Shepards) could look into the eyes of the man who took their son and give him mercy.”

Ladies and gentlemen, we need to see a miracle of forgiveness in the United States.  So, to repeat in closing, let’s “gang up” on our grudges with the help of God and “team-up” with Him to beat the grudge down to nothing so that hold that grudge no longer.  It will make a difference and will profoundly help change the tone of our society.

ACTION STEP:  Do you have a grudge in your mind against someone?  Take the step to forgive that person for your attitude of passionate dislike for them.  Then, “team-up” with God to let Him beat the grudge down to nothing so that hold that grudge no longer.