There’s a family who has completely shut mine out for almost four years now.
At one time I loved them like my own family. We spent many days a week together. And then suddenly, we were shut out. Just like that. They shut us out of their lives. Out of their church. Out of their friendship circles.
Out of everything.
In fact, if I meet up with either of them, they will try to look past me as if I do not exist. If I smile and say hi anyway, they barely nod, mumbling an inaudible greeting in return and only because they know it would make them look bad to say nothing.
Why, you may ask, am I sharing this? Because of the warning their lives have become for me.
I do not know them anymore, because they have made sure that we can’t. They were once great people, godly people. They weren’t some angry, bitter souls that looked to destroy and tear others down. They were helpful people. They had a strong family and a beautiful faith. They were talented and inspiring.
Yet somewhere along the line, they have become convinced that what they perceive as wrong in our lives, is what God perceives as wrong… and that God is pleased with this grudge they continue to hold, this “godly shunning” of others.
Let me just say this: Other people’s sin is not for us to hold against them.
God does not need us to hold on to the burden of hating others for his sake. He doesn’t need our help to convict them, to discipline them or to punish them in any way. In fact, there are very strong warnings in scripture against bitterness because that is really what bitterness is: holding other people’s sins against them, refusing to forgive. The only difference is that this has been done “for Christ’s sake” so it feels much more godly.
In some cultures this sort of zealous self-righteousness results in honor killings. A “sacrifice” to God.
Can I be so bold as to say that God takes no pleasure in honor killings? Neither does he take pleasure in grudges or in self righteous shunning. In fact there is a story where Jesus responded to this type of religiosity.
A woman was brought before him, caught red-handed in adultery. The real righteous folk, those leaders of the church, brought this woman to Jesus, trying to trap him. Smirking and desperate for bloodshed that day, they said:
“Good teacher, the law requires us to stone her. What should we do?”
Jesus bent down to write in the sand. And then he stood to say something absolutely phenomenal: “He who has no sin, cast the first stone.”
Every single person present silently walked away, one at a time. No one was worthy to cast it.
Every single one of us has sinned. And when we judge one person’s sin as worse than ours, holding onto it, we are literally spitting on the grace that Christ has shown us. Holding onto the sins of others and feeling as if their mistakes are just somehow not worthy of the grace that God has shown us, is hypocrisy.
When Christ was being nailed to the cross, he did not say, “Father, once these vile sinners repent and realize their sin, forgive them.”
He said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
Jesus did not hold on to grudges, regardless of the actions of those around him. He simply forgave and left the rest in God’s hands.
So why would we think it is our duty to live any differently?
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Matthew 7:1-2
Do I really want to hold onto another person‘s sin and take the risk that God will hold onto mine?
I’m not taking that chance.
Let it go, move on and love people deeply.
Because friends, it’s not our grudge to hold.