MULES, GRUDGES, AND BITTERNESS
A farmer leaned on the fence, which separated his farm from his neighbor's adjoining field. He watched while his neighbor plowed his old mule with sullen difficulty.
The farmer stood there watching his neighbor's misery until he could take it no longer. "I don't like to tell a fella his business, but if you would speak to that there mule it would make your job much easier," spoke the farmer. "Seems to me that pulling on the reins like you do only confuses the mule and makes you mad. Just tell him 'gee' and 'haw' and see if he don't do a lot better."
The neighbor took the reins from around his shoulders, pulled a big square red handkerchief from his hip pocket and wiped the inside of his straw hat. He then looked kinda squint eyed and said, "Reckon you're right neighbor, but this here animal kicked me five years ago and I ain't spoke a word to him since."
How we relate to people is an important element in our Christian lives. Christians cannot claim Christ-like character if they bear grudges. Can you imagine Peter becoming so upset with our Lord because He called him Satan (Matthew 16:23) that he refused to ever speak to Him again?
Holding a grudge has become a life-long project for some. They can remember every unkind word that was spoken to them. They dwell upon the way they were mistreated and make a pact with themselves never to forgive. Their attitude is one that says, now you've hurt me and you must pay. The grudge bearer fails to understand that grudges don't hurt others nearly as much as they hurt him.
A way in which one hurts themselves is that bearing a grudge produces bitterness which in turn clouds the judgement. When this happens, the grudge bearer will always be 'against' the one to whom they are bitter. They will put the worst interpretation possible upon the words or actions of their foe, and will at every opportunity, engage in pettifoggery.
In dealing with God's acceptance of the Gentiles and that the Jewish Christian should do the same, Paul wrote, "Wherefore receive ye one another, even as Christ also received you, to the glory of God" (Romans 15:7).
Another way is the time and energy it takes to maintain a grudge. Time that could and should be used to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord. Instead, the grudge holder occupies their thought processes with the real or imagined, the intentional or unintentional hurts of their foe. The Christian is to direct his thoughts on things which edify (Philippians 4:8).
"Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and railing, be put away from you, with all malice: and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, even as God also in Christ forgave you" (Ephesians 4:31-32).
In speaking of bitterness, Walter N. Henderson wrote, "Bitterness will cause one to lie; (Rom. 3:13,14); it will even cause one to lie against the truth according to Jas. 3:14. Why? Because the one possessed with bitterness cannot see the truth in all of its beauty for he looks at it through jaundiced eyes.
Many great men, preachers of power, and faithful saints of God have been destroyed because they let Satan fill their hearts with bitterness, and they refused to put it away as the Scripture instructed them to do. Asa, a great king, let bitterness mar an almost perfect life. (2 Chron. 16:12). Don't let this happen to you; I must guard against it too."
The plowing of his field was made difficult because the neighbor held a grudge and was bitter. The Christian's life is made unfulfilling and his soul is lost when he holds a grudge that in turn harbors bitterness. Isn't it time to speak to the mule in your life?
By Glen Young via Road Creek Bulletin
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