Couples Devotional: Let Go of the Grudge

Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of malicious behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.
–Ephesians 4:21-32

While none of us has ever seen a grudge, we have all seen the relational results that come from when people hold grudges. We’ve all seen the unresolved conflict, relational breakdown and arguments that have resulted from grudges.

Some time ago, as I was doing some yard work, I was moving some heavy cinderblocks. While I was carrying them, I thought to myself, “If a grudge was something physical, it would look this. It would feel like this!” Grudges are like carrying cinderblocks because they are heavy and weigh one down. Interestingly, we have pretty fascinating language about grudges. We talk about them the way that we talk about babies. For example, you can hold a grudge. You can carry a grudge. You can put it on your shoulders and bear a grudge. Many of us even talk about how you can nurse a grudge.

Think about it this way: when you nurse something, you feed it that which will keep it alive, that which will make it grow. You can do that with a grudge. You can feed a grudge with hostile thoughts, angry feelings, distorted perceptions, harmful intentions, and if you do, that grudge will grow. Besides all that, the tragic thing about holding grudges against a spouse is that some may carry them for weeks or months or even years.

Now for some truth-telling: You know as well as I that if you reflect for a minute, holding a grudge against your husband or wife won’t add to your life and certainly won’t strengthen your relationship! Truthfully, grudges only take away life. They strip you of joy. They take away your potential of growing into a more loving, kind, gracious and merciful spouse. You won’t become the kind of spouse you want to be when you carry around a grudge. God knows that, too! That’s why the Bible is very clear about the type of relational virus that a grudge is. It spreads throughout your entire life. It cuts you off from loving your spouse, even as she or he is loved by Jesus. There won’t be one area of your life that won’t be affected by a grudge if it stays alive within you. That’s why God says, “Let it go.” It’s time to trade in your grudges and replace them with the life-giving love of Jesus. As you reflect on all the ways God showers you with His love, isn’t it time you lay down your grudges and make it your goal to pass along God’s love to your spouse instead?

1. In what ways have holding grudges against your spouse impacted your marriage?
2. What steps need to be taken to resolve any lingering conflicts in your marriage?

Together, commit to taking the action steps you have discussed. Then, brainstorm what making your home a grudge-free zone might look like. Pray together, asking God to help you to honor Him by the way you choose to avoid holding grudges toward one another.

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Robin Dugall

A long-time contributor to HomeWord's daily devotionals, Robin is Pastor of Our Savior Lutheran Church of McCall, Idaho and Shepherd of the Mountains Lutheran Church of Cascade, Idaho. He is also an Adjunct Professor of Theology at Concordia University in Portland, Oregon.

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