One Year Bible Reading Plan and Devotional
Today’s Bible Reading: February 16
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Clicking on the Scripture links above will open a new window where you can read the scripture from the Holman Christian Standard Bible at Biblegateway.com or choose the Bible version you prefer to read. Check back each day to get the Scripture to read in the One Year Bible Reading Plan.
Skip the Grudge – Love Your Neighbor
Who do you call “Neighbor”?
Who are the people that you call “neighbor”? The people that live next door, across the street, down the street, or within your housing development, apartment building or condo? What about the people at work or in your school? What about the people that live right inside of your home…your spouse, parents, brothers, sisters? Basically, anyone you come in contact with as you live your life is your neighbor and God expects us to all get along. We are not to take revenge or bear a grudge. In fact, He expects us to love others as much as we love ourselves.
Revenge and Grudges
There is nothing right or okay about taking revenge or holding on to a grudge. What is the difference between these? Revenge is any form of personal retaliatory action against an individual, institution, or group for some perceived harm or injustice while a grudge is deep-seated animosity or ill-feeling about something or someone. Both are products of hate.
A closer look at revenge
We feel the need to get revenge when we feel like we have been slighted, at a disadvantage, disempowered, treated poorly, threatened, or placed in an unfair situation due to someone or something. The most common emotions that accompany this type of situation can be feelings of anger, resentment, frustration, and deep hurt. We often don’t feel like we have a way out to express ourselves unless we get back at whatever or whoever caused this turmoil. What’s more, there are negative physical and medical risks posed with holding onto an angry grudge. They include heart disease, high blood pressure, headaches, digestive imbalances, insomnia, anxiety and depression, skin problems including eczema, and stroke.
A closer look at grudges
Grudges are not any better. When we hang on to the things others do or say to us, we are holding a grudge. While we don’t often like to admit it, holding a grudge is a common way some people respond to feeling that they’ve been wronged. However, just like revenge, holding a grudge can end up hurting you as much as the person who inspired it.
Clinging to hate and anger can impact you, emotionally, physically, and socially. You might think that harboring ill-will harms the person you’re mad at, but ultimately you’re the one who suffers from it. Essentially, a grudge inhibits your ability to cope with or resolve your issue and keeps you stuck in the past—trapped in an unpleasant event or interaction that causes you distress. The grudge doesn’t solve your problem and is highly unlikely to make you feel any better. Consider that the phrase “holding a grudge,” comes from the Old French word grouchier, which means “to grumble” and is related to the English word “grouch.” Related older English and German words have similar meanings that translate into “to complain,” “to wail,” “to grumble,” and “to cry out.”
No wonder God says, “Do not revenge or bear a grudge!”
Forgiveness removes the need for revenge and grudges
Letting go of revenge and grudges can make way for improved health and peace of mind. Forgiveness involves a decision to let go of resentment and thoughts of revenge. It doesn’t mean forgetting or excusing the harm done to you or making up with the person who caused the harm, although it does open the door for the opportunity to mend broken relationships. Forgiveness brings a kind of peace that helps you go on with life. If revenge and grudges affect us negatively, then forgiveness affects us positively. Forgiveness can lead to
- healthier relationships
- Improved mental health
- Less anxiety, stress and hostility
- Lower blood pressure
- Fewer symptoms of depression
- A stronger immune system
- Improved heart health
- Improved self-esteem
Jesus said in Matthew 6:15, “But if you don’t forgive people, your Father will not forgive your wrongdoing.” There is no place in the Christian’s life for either revenge or bearing grudges. No where in the life of Christ will you find him taking revenge or holding a grudge. Not when Judas betrayed him, not when the 12 disciples left him, not when Peter denied him, and not when the Roman soldier nailed him to a cross. Instead, from the cross, He asks His Father to “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
God wants us to forgive….just as He forgave us. Paul told us in Romans 12:19, Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” When you hold on to a grudge or seek revenge, you are typically the person that is most miserable while the one you are angry with goes on with their life. But when you release it and let it go into the hands of the Almighty God and choose forgiveness instead, you demonstrate the nature and character of Christ.
Bless those who persecute you
Proverbs 25:21-22 says, “If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink, for you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you.” It really comes down to one word: “LOVE.” We are to love our neighbors as ourselves. We are to even love our enemies and do good to those who persecute us. Paul wrote in Romans 12:14, “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.” If you want to defeat the urge to take revenge or hold a grudge, bless the person who did you wrong. Stop and pray for that person and ask God to bless them. You’ll feel much better than hanging on to anger and holding grudges and seeking revenge.
Try to find at least five things that you can do for other people today that show you love them as much as you love yourself. Can you do one thing for each of the following people: someone in your home, someone on your street, someone at work, a friend, a total stranger or homeless person. As you do, say a prayer of blessing for each of these people.
Love your Neighbor
Loving your neighbor as yourself is found eight times in the Bible. Not once. Not twice. Eight times. Loving your neighbor as yourself is so important to God that He not only repeats Himself, He makes it a command. And not just one in a list of many commands. Jesus coupled the command to love your neighbor as yourself with loving God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.
But when someone wrongs us, it becomes very difficult to love them. We must remember that there was a time when we, too, were difficult to love – but Jesus died for us anyway. Romans 5:8 says, “But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us!” Jesus had compassion, grace, and mercy on us. And this is why he came to earth. In Luke 5:32, Jesus says, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
Then we must remember that Jesus loves those who wrong us just as much as He loves us – and he came to die for them too. Because He lives within us, the same compassion, grace and mercy he had on us, we should extend to others.
Love in Words
James writes, “You must understand this, my beloved: let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger” (James 1:19) And in verse 1:26, he says “If any think they are religious, and do not bridle their tongues but deceive their hearts, their religion is worthless.” If you and I launch verbal destruction, those words will have devastating consequences on others.
The childhood rhyme about stick and stones versus words is not true. Words build up or tear down. There is an old saying that says, “Never say in anger what you don’t mean, because you can say you’re sorry, but you can’t take it back.” Satan can use our tongue to cause division, putting others down, bragging, false teaching, exaggeration, complaining, or just flat out lying. The tongue can express or repress; offend or befriend; affirm or alienate; build or belittle; comfort or criticize; delight or destroy. It only takes a few words to hurt someone and the easiest way to get revenge is through words.
Our words have power. They can bring joy or cause misery. Proverbs 18:21 puts it this way: “The tongue has the power of life and death.” The stakes are high. Your words can either speak life, or your words can speak death. Our tongues can build others up, or they can tear them down. They can result in blessings or revenge and grudges.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 says, “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up as you are already doing.”
To love your neighbor as yourself is to use words to build them up. Speaking words of encouragement is the most obvious example but there are others. We can be more intentional with our words by looking for and magnifying the good. We can always find something good if we’ll take the time to look for it. If you are having a hard time finding good in someone who has wronged you, ask the Holy Spirit to show you the good in them.
Love in Action
It is one thing to say we love our neighbor, but putting love into action is another – especially when we feel we have been wronged in some way. To put love in action, means we serve. Serving from the heart is kindness in action. Kindness is one of the attributes of love listed in 1 Corinthians 13. The funny thing about kindness, though, is you can do acts of kindness without kindness residing in your heart. If the kind thing is done out of duty then it isn’t love. But if you have to start from a sense of duty, then start there and while you serve them, ask God to change duty into genuine, Christ-like love.
Jesus said he came to serve (Matthew 20:28). God, who is love, came to serve. Love serves. For you to love your neighbor as yourself, you’ll have a heart to serve them. You can do so in simple ways. Let them know you’re there for them. If they need a ride somewhere, you drive them. If they need their dog or cat checked on while they’re out of town, you do that for them. Other examples are getting their mail for them or taking them a meal if they’re not well.
What does the Bible say?
Romans 12:17 says, “Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. And in 1 Thessalonians 5: 15, Paul tell us, “See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.” And in Ephesians 4:31-32, we are told to “let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” James tells us that mercy triumphs judgement (James 2:13). King Solomon instructs us in Proverbs 19:11 that “Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.”
We could list many other verses, but one thing is clear. God does not want us to live in hate and anger, bearing grudges or seeking revenge. He wants us, with the power of His help, to love those who do us wrong – both in word and action.
#ReadYourBible #Leviticus #Matthew #greatcommission #whosyourone #goandtell
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