Just a few moments into the conversation, it was clear that she had been hurt and was now simmering with resentment. Her tense face and quick responses revealed the anger she was trying keep under control, but you did not need a psychology degree to read her agitated state of mind. Her simmering emotions were moving toward a full boil!
My dictionary defines resentment as “feeling displeasure or indignation at (a person, act, remark, etc.) from a sense of injury or insult.” It’s not a pleasant emotional state nor does it generally lead to a good end. A resentful person often becomes hypersensitive and perceives harmless remarks as offensive, innocent people as adversaries. Resentment eats at our heart and unless we deal with it will have a detrimental effect on all of our relationships, by turning us into an angry, lonely person.
I have seen resentment build up and destroy a marriage turning a once loving couple into rivals competing for respect and power in their relationship. “He will never treat like that again,” she declares in her wounded state. He angrily declares, “I won’t be ignored for one more day!” I have spoken with employees who are sabotaging their relationship with their boss because they were passed over for recognition or promotion. Their resentment blinds them to the destruction they are bringing on themselves by continuing their grudge match with their supervisor. I have seen Pastors ruin their ministry at a local church because after working hard on a project that goes unappreciated they allow an offended heart to become full of resentment.
Disciple, are you dealing with an offense?
Has someone failed to show you the respect you think you deserve?
Has someone you care deeply about not reciprocated your love creating a simmering resentment?
Have you been discriminated against, held back, or passed over because of age, sex, or race?
The wisdom of the Word runs counter to most conventional advice on such matters. In His model prayer, Jesus taught us the importance of letting go of our offense: “Forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us.” (Matthew 6:12, NLT)
This directive comes to all of us, “Be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:32, NLT)
In one of His most challenging words to us, Jesus says that we must “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.” (Luke 6:27-30, NIV) He makes no excuses or rationalization for resentment in our hearts, does He?
Let God become your defender. Give yourself to Him for vindication and recognition. He sees it all, knows it all, and promises justice; in His own time. We can take our disappointment, our broken heart, our indignation to Him; and we should! And, we leave it all there, with Him, asking Him to create a tender, gentle, loving heart in us. This is the paradox created by that choice of faith; with surrender of our desire to be right, we find greater peace. Is that difficult? Yes, it requires death to Self, silencing the screaming insistence of our mind that says, “I want my respect!”
Don’t let simmering resentment boil into full rage. Here’s a word from the Word. Meditate on it and let the beauty of His wisdom own your heart today.
“Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires. So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls. But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.” (James 1:20-22, NLT)