Have you been wronged by someone? I have.

Are you holding a grudge against that person or secretly hoping something bad will happen to them? It happens, but it is not good for you.

Nursing a grudge can lead to negative feelings and a wish for revenge.  Neither is biblical and won’t end well. Consider the biblical story of John the Baptist in Mark 6. It’s a story about a woman who nursed a grudge.

Herod was a tetrarch under the Roman Empire. He fell in love with his brother’s wife, Herodias, who was also his niece. Herodias agreed to marry Herod if he would divorce his first wife. Talk about family dysfunction!

At the time, John the Baptist was a rather outspoken prophet who criticized Herod for this marriage. Herod wasn’t happy about John’s judgment of him and imprisoned John. He was so outraged that he would have killed John but was afraid of how the people would respond to the killing of one of their prophets. Herod wanted to avoid an uprising.

Now, Herodias was also angry at John for calling her marriage unlawful. She held this against John and nursed a grudge. She was so angry that she looked for an opportunity to have John killed. She wanted revenge.

In the story, Herod had a birthday party. Herodias’s daughter danced and pleased the tetrarch. Because Herod was so pleased, he told the daughter to ask for anything she liked, and he would give it to her. Coached by her mother, Herodias, the daughter asked for the head of John the Baptist, thus securing her mother’s revenge. A grudge was nursed, and revenge sought.

The takeaway: Don’t hold a grudge. The cost to you isn’t worth it.

Holding a grudge creates stress. Physical problems such as heart problems, high blood pressure, weakened immune system, digestive problems and increased anxiety can result.

Holding a grudge leads to bitterness and resentment. Someone hurt you and you make the hurt worse by holding a grudge.  Angry and unable to move on with your life, grudges keep you stuck in the past. Nothing is solved and you don’t feel better.

To let go of a grudge:

  1. Acknowledge your feelings. Process them with the intent to let them go. Don’t hold on to anger as it will make you angrier. Feel the hurt and then give up the right to anger and resentment.
  2. Can you learn anything from the situation? Are you responsible for any part of the problem? In other words, assess your possible contribution to the problem.
  3. Get support, especially if you have been wronged at no fault of your own. When injustice occurs, we fight to change things if we can. If not, we let God deal with the person. Find people who will encourage you to let go of resentment even if justified.
  4. Distract your brain from ruminating on the wrongdoing. Refuse to keep thinking about the unfairness or wrong that was committed towards you.
  5. Know that one day justice will be served. God sees it all. While you may not see the consequences of bad behavior, they will come. Don’t allow the grudge to steal your joy.

The more you hold a grudge, the more unpleasant feelings you bring to yourself. The more you think about the wrongdoing, the more the it feels like it just happened. And holding a grudge can make the incident more painful than when it occurred.

Forgiveness and acceptance are needed. Ask God to help you with this process and give your upsets to Him. He will ultimately deal with each of us. We don’t have to be judge and jury over people we can’t control. Forgiveness is your choice and it will free you.


Excerpted and adapted from We Need To Talk by Linda Mintle, Ph.D. (Baker Books, 2015).

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