It’s been said that harboring resentment is like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies. When we’re resentful towards another person, we allow them to live rent free inside our minds. The only person that is paying for it is us. All day long, we stay angry. Meanwhile, they’re off living their life, never the wiser of our problems or how we feel about them. We continually replay in our minds what they did or what they said to hurt us. When we do, anger consumes us and we grow spiritually sick.
How do I know you have resentments? You’re a flesh and blood human-being like me, which means you have the tendency to maintain anger towards people, places and things.
Most likely, though, you’re mad at a person. You’re resentful at an individual for something they did or said that caused you harm. First of all, I understand. I, too, deal with resentment. It’s something we all struggle with as fallen, sinful people (Romans 3:23; Matthew 5:21-22). But, you don’t have to let it consume you. You can have victory over resentment.
Let me illustrate for you what I mean. Last week, I was very upset with an individual. This person made a decision that directly affected my ministry. When I talked to this person on the phone, they would not acknowledge, even in the smallest way, that they were wrong. I was mad. I didn’t agree with their decision. So, what am I to do? Well, I guess I could replay why I am mad at this person over and over again in my mind, and let it ruin my weekend. Or, I can give it to God and experience freedom. I think I’ll choose the latter.
Let me suggest to you three steps to take in order to experience victory over resentment.
The first step is acceptance. There is nothing I can do about the decision this person made. I am powerless over them and the outcome. Acceptance allows me to eliminate the unrealistic expectations I had for this person. I expected them to live a certain way. When they didn’t, I got angry. Expectations are planned resentments. I also accepted the fact that not everything is about me. Their decision was about them, not me. I am not that important.
The second step is faith. Since I am powerless, I have to believe that God has all power, and, indeed, He does (1st Chronicles 29:11). I can’t remove my anger, but God can. He has the power to remedy the issue. I just need to trust that He can do it.
The third step is surrender. I have to give this person, my anger and my will over to the care of God. Only then will I begin to experience victory. In doing so, I pray for this individual, because, as a forgiven sinner, I have to forgive (Ephesians 4:32, Colossians 3:13). I prayed, “Lord, this is a sinful person like me. How may I be of service to them? Please save me from being angry. Thy will be done. Amen.”
Do you know what changed after this? Me! That’s all I can do. I can’t change other people. With God’s help, I can only change myself. I don’t want to be angry. I want to be happy and joyful. Therefore, I work on cleaning up my side of street, and I accept the fact that I can’t change others. When I do, I am free, joyful and made of service to God. When I don’t, I stay mad and I am no good to anyone, especially our Lord.