Every neighborhood has them, probably every congregation—those people who carry around a spirit of grievance. “I have been wronged,” they say. They develop a self-pitying, complaining spirit.
They are waiting for the ones who have wronged them to come and make their wrongs right. And until that happens, they sulk and complain. Perhaps they won’t come to church; if they do come, they won’t carry any responsibility. They may refuse, in their condemnation of others, to participate in communion. They withhold their financial support. As the years go by their attitude becomes hardened into a personality trait. They become known as people who carry a grudge for something that happened years ago.
The story of almost every division in church history features people who felt that in some committee decision, some church action, some bishop’s ruling, they had not been treated right. They took away my office, they said things about me that weren’t true, they gave me no chance to present a defense—so the complaints run.
Every brother who has served on a committee to adjust any church difficulty knows how the story goes.
It is a fact that there are all kinds of injustices in human relations, and since all men are fallible, they may occur in church relationships. Probably most people have been wronged at some time or other, or think they have. So the man who has been misused is not suffering any solitary misfortune.
This is not to justify the giving of offense. Jesus said that offenses must needs come, but woe to that man by whom they come. However, when a stone of stumbling is thrown our way, it is a sensible and a Christian thing to refuse to stumble. Most such stones can be stepped over or walked around. He is a foolish man who insists on stubbing his toe just because there is a stumbling block in his path.
Life is too short to let any of it be spoiled by moping around. If we have been wronged, we quickly forgive and forget, and go on our way. One does not have to wait until the wronger asks to be forgiven. He should ask, but if he does not, it’s his loss. Let us not warp our souls by any unforgiving spirit. Love does not care to keep books on evil.
The wrongs we suffer can be a means to making our characters more holy and more beautiful. And so the people who wrong us may actually be doing us a favor.
And what a testimony to the world it is when Christians refuse to hold grudges! Any worldling can cherish a hurt; many of them do. But only a Christian, one who is like Christ, can live above being hurt. Imagine Christ on the cross saying, “I have been wronged!” Of course He had. But He turned His into the world’s redemption.
And regarding forgiveness, Jesus said in Mark 11:26, “But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.”
And again in Matthew 6:14-15, “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
And again in Matthew 18:35 the last part tells us this: “… If ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.”
These Scriptures are positive and weighty. And as we further picture in our minds, our Savior on the cross, who was despised, rejected, and wronged, gave us this wonderful example when He prayed, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”
Perhaps someone reading this cannot name one person who has ever wronged him. God bless you! You have just forgotten it, as God wants you to do. No true follower of Christ says, “I have been wronged.”