Thursday, December 6, 2018

The Grinch stole Christmas?

We have all heard of the Grinch who stole Christmas and I have not talked to anyone who admits to being his friend.  He is rather universally recognized as the one who steals what we love about Christmas ...

Let me do a little play on words ... yes.. the Grinch steals the joy of Christmas but what if we allow a 'Grinch' to be our in-house guest all year round ?   And give him not only the joy of Christmas but also the joy of every day?

Who is this 'Grinch' ?  We know him by the name of Grudge.

We have all entertained grudges at some point in our life, I'm sure - but maybe you never realized what a destructive thief a grudge is.

Who doesn't love babies ?  They are such adorable little joy-givers - that one smile just melts your heart. Who can walk past a fresh-faced, wide-eyed baby in the grocery aisle and not smile and coo at them?
For those of us who are mothers we know all about carrying them for nine months, then bearing them -giving birth, then holding them close and nursing them  - giving them the nourishment they need to grow and flourish.

Now consider the key words in my comment about babies -- and see how we use all of them when we refer to grudges.

  • we carry a grudge 
  • we bear a grudge 
  • we hold a grudge 
  • we nurse a grudge 
What does that tell us ?  Think about when you first held your newborn.  It immediately captured your all-consuming attention and became a 24/7 focus and priority, did it not?   Everything else in your life was decided upon only after you considered how it would affect your baby. The child's well-fare - truly, his very life- depended on you. The responsibility was huge. 
Other needs became secondary to the needs of your child.  No penny spared, no effort too costly. 
And .... how many sleepless nights did you endure trying to pacify your restless child?   

Hmmmm ...   all too applicable to that 'grudge' we hold so dear, are they not?   

A grudge has a 'feel-good' aspect to it, because it makes us feel justified - we have been ill-done-by and we are entitled to being vindicated. We can't just let the offender think he did nothing wrong! 
Once we 'bear' a grudge, we hold it close and nurse it in our thoughts and through sleepless nights when we focus on the offence over and over and it grows as we nurse it. What we may not realize is that we can't really hide a grudge - just like the baby in the grocery aisle, our grudge shows where others can see it. 
Yet... what does it do for US?   Like the Christmas Grinch,  it steals our joy, it steals our peace, it steals our love and its steals our contentment and our thankful heart.
And most importantly of all, it steals our sweet relationship with the Lord.  

We read in James 3:9,  "Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the Judge is standing at the door!"   (the Greek word translated 'grumble' is also translated 'grudge'. )

Jesus also speaks to our human weakness to carry grudges. 
In Luke 6:37 He says ... "Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven."

So often a grudge is based on a faulty judgement on our part and we withhold our forgiveness without just cause. 
Someone wise once said that if we walked in someone else's shoes we would probably do the same things they do. 
A person might offend us with a sharp remark or criticism but we are unaware that their day has been filled with unbearable pain. A person might respond or act in a way that wounds or angers us because it was totally uncalled for, inappropriate or extremely hurtful ... but if we really knew or understood what caused them to do what they did, would we judge them in the same way we did?  

We hold our children tight and are fiercely protective because we know no one else can or would care for them they way we can.  We feel the same way about our grudges. We feel if we let them go, justice will not be served, the guilty one will go free unpunished,  we will be left as the victim, paying the price,  and the guilty one rewarded. 
But we forget ....  letting go of a grudge sets US free and returns to us the 'good things' we let that grudge steal from us.   But we are not abandoning our 'baby' any more than a teen-aged mother who gifts her child to good adoptive parents.  No .. .when we 'give up' our grudge we surrender it to God who  will not only be our defender and healer  but will also make sure that righteous judgement prevails.  If I forgive someone's offense against me, I set myself free, but I do not set them free before God.   
Consider this ... do you want God to judge you according to what other people say or think about you?  Or would you prefer that He judge you according to how HE sees and understands you.  I know I prefer to stand before God without any accusers. Should I not extend that right to others as well?  When we let God judge those who have hurt us, He does not make the mistakes we make when we judge others. 

My Challenge --  Let us celebrate this Christmas season without any Grinches or Grudges in our home or heart.


From my heart to yours --  
May you fully enjoy the blessings of Christmas and experience the love, hope, joy and peace our Savior's birth gifted to the world.  .