Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work. (2 Ti 2:20–21).
Lesson 2: "Righting All Wrongs"
By Charles B. Knight
We are gravely mistaken when we believe it’s possible to maintain a sound relationship with God while refusing to maintain sound relationships with others.
The Bible teaches us that our relationship to others directly impacts our relationship to God (Matthew 6:14,15; 1 Peter 3:7-9). One cannot hate his or her spouse and hope to still be in good standing with the Lord (Ephesians 5:25; Colossians 3:19). One cannot be prejudice or show partiality and still be useful to the cause of the cross (James 2:1-4).
Attitudes can make or break a relationship. The redeemed Christian must have the right attitude. To be faithful in all areas of God’s law and to disregard it in one area, is to fail in keeping His law (James 2:8-11). This is because God’s law is based upon love (Romans 13:9-10). We cannot be faithful and useful servants to the Master while holding grudges.
We all have our reasons to hold grudges. People wrong us. Situations hurt us. Even God does not always do what we think He should do, so we get angry. We hold offenses against those who have wronged us, and often against God who we think should have done things differently. A grudge is nothing more than a refusal to forgive.
God has such a strong concern about grudges that He included a specific command about them when He gave the Law to the Israelites. Leviticus 19:18 says, “You shall not take vengeance nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the LORD.” It is interesting that God concluded this particular command with the words "I am the LORD." In doing so, God reminded us that He is the Lord, not us. He, not us, has the authority and right to determine how we should treat our fellow human neighbors.
To hold a grudge is to set ourselves up as judge and jury—to determine that one person’s wrong should not be forgiven. No human being has the right or authority to do that. Romans 12:19 says, “Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written: ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord.”
Misunderstanding forgiveness often keeps us in bondage to grudges. We think that to forgive is to excuse sin or pretend the offense did not matter. Neither is true. Forgiveness is not necessarily about the other person. Forgiveness is God’s gift to us to release us from the control of someone who has hurt us. When we retain a grudge, we give someone we don’t like power over our emotions.
Without forgiveness, just the thought of an offender can send acid to our stomachs and heat to our faces. In essence, we make that person an idol, giving him or her control over us (Deuteronomy 32:39). But when we forgive, we release to God any right to vengeance or restitution. Forgiveness puts our relationship with God back in proper alignment. We acknowledge that He is the Judge, not us, and that He has the right to bring about any resolution He chooses. Forgiveness is the choice to trust God rather than ourselves with the outcome of the offense.
“You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the Lord.” (Leviticus 19:18)
Identify those who failed to stay useful to the Master because of unresolved resentment or a grudge. How can we avoid their mistakes today?
1) Genesis 4:1-10.
2) 1 Samuel 18:7-9.
3) Acts 13:44-46.
It wasn’t Moby Dick who destroyed Captain Ahab—Captain Ahab destroyed himself.
Ahab allowed his passionate hatred for the whale to blind him to the dangers and madness of pursuing vengeance upon a sea creature who acted upon its own natural instincts, not conscientious, purposeful ill will.
What resentment does:
Blackens the heart.
Undermines Christian Character.
Builds up hatred and bitterness.
Compromises your faith.
Makes you an emotional slave.
Gives the devil power over you.
Can lead to violence.
Teaches young people it’s okay.
Leads to inappropriate speech.
Grieves the Holy Spirit.
Hinders your prayers.
Hinders God’s favor.
Weakens and destroys a congregation.
Has caused many to divorce.
Causes serious friction in the home.
Fools you into thinking your hurting others, when in reality, you’re hurting yourself, and God.
May lead to a pattern of further hatred for others.
It is impossible to defend feelings or actions which contradict Biblical teaching. Sin is sin, and the Master cannot fellowship with those who hold to it.
Overcoming Relationship Issues
1) According to Jesus, why should we love our enemies? (Matthew 5:43-47).
2) According to Paul, what should Christians do and not do? (Romans 12:17-21).
3) How should we treat others in everything (All things)? (Matthew 7:12).
Lesson 2 Questions
Answer the following questions below. Be sure to fully read each passage of Scripture.
1) What should Christians allow to rule in their hearts? (Colossians 3:15). What is Jesus for the Christian? (see Ephesians 2:13-17). How so?
2) If we harbor bitterness, envy, etc in our hearts, what are we doing to the Gospel Truth? (see James 3:14-16; Galatians 2:11-14). According to James, what is the nature of such attitudes, and what do they cause?
3) What lessons can we glean from Matthew 5:22-24?
4) How should Christians respond to each issue below, that they may remain useful to the Master…?
a) Someone hates and constantly opposes you (Matt 5:44).
b) Someone persecutes you (Rom 12:14).
c) Spouse disappoints you (Col 3:19; 1 Cor 13:4,5).
Choose one or more of the following Challenges below. Share the results your challenge with others, and encourage them to challenge themselves.
1) Write a two page heart-felt, sincere letter to someone you’ve been holding a grudge against. Regardless of how you believe they may respond.
2) Pray that God will help change your negative feelings toward someone or others regardless of whether or not they change. Pray that God will help you to change and move on with His work.
3) Hug someone you don’t get along with or someone you may disagree with. Let them know you genuinely care, despite the differences.
4) Sometimes we don’t listen because we’re so occupied with putting together a quick response. Instead, just listen to someone you disagree with. Resist the urge to interrupt, correct, or add your opinion. Just listen.