Focus your energies on...
Forgiveness is a funny thing. It warms the heart and cools the sting. (William Arthur Ward)
If you, God, kept records on wrongdoings, who would stand a chance? As it turns out, forgiveness is your habit, and that’s why you’re worshiped. (Psalm 130:3-4)
As it turns out...those are actually words of realization on the part of our psalmist. When we have that moment of recognition that only God can provide, what a moment it is! Just grab hold of what he is saying here - God could keep record of all our mistakes, making it impossible for any of us to actually 'clean up our acts' totally. He could make us pay restitution for each and every failure, but he doesn't. Instead, he paid the price - not out of 'obligation' or 'regret', but out of love. His 'habit' is to live and breathe love - where love is, grace abounds.
If God gives so freely of his love - forgiveness being an integral part of love - how is it we can hold grudges against each other? What is a grudge anyway? The formal definition is a 'feeling' of ill-will or resentment. Did you notice I put 'feeling' in quotes? A grudge is an emotional tie to the offense we have internalized. We form 'feelings' toward the person committing the action, not so much against the offensive act itself. Then we hold the person in some form of 'emotional prison' deep within us.
Ward also reminds us: It is wise to direct your anger towards problems - not people; to focus your energies on answers - not excuses. The issue is oftentimes NOT the focus of our grudge - it is the person. If we took our eyes off the person and focused on the issue, we might just have less hatred and enmity in our society today. When I have a water leak in my sprinkler system, I am not happy. I could kick the valve, curse at it, and even talk badly about the leak ad nauseum. The leak would still be there and all those 'feelings' I have now attached to the leak would cause me to dread repairing it even more.
That is exactly how holding grudges works - the feelings we attach to the 'person' and the 'problem' actually never fix the 'leak' in the relationship. The leak is still there, and we dread fixing it even more than we would have if we had of worked it out right then and there. God is immediate in his forgiveness - confess your failure to him and grace is immediately extended (in fact, he provides the very measure of grace we need even before we ask for it). How could we possibly think it is okay for us to hold onto those negative feelings towards another? It could be we need to do a little work of letting go of those 'feelings' and focusing a bit more on what it will take to remedy the issues. Just sayin!