July 16, 2016
Bearing One Another’s Grievance
One of my favorite verses from scripture is from the book of Galatians — it says to “bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (Gal 6:2). The “law of Christ” is to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength — and love your neighbor as yourself.” In fact, Jesus says all the commandments of the Bible can be summed up with these two simple, yet profound statements.
What he did not say, is “Bear One Another’s Grievances” against each other. He specifically stresses the importance of love and forgiveness — even when the offending party does not know they have caused great harm. Among the last words He uttered while dying on the cross was compassion for those who were cruelly crucifying Him — he said, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” His forgiveness and death so impacted one of His torturers that the Roman soldier said, “surely this man was the son of God.”
So how do we address grievances and evil others do to us — or even more complex, how do we address grievances held by our loved ones against those who have mistreated them? Are we being “disloyal” to a friend who has been slighted, betrayed, even hurt by others if we do not hold strong bias and/or grievance against the offender? Maybe we should ask ourselves the simple question, “what would Jesus do?”
There are, of course, situations where one can forgive yet NOT put themselves back into a position to be hurt again. I remember reading about a woman who had been terribly abused by her father as a young girl. She had forgiven him, even talked to him about his mistreatment and expressed her hurt and her forgiveness. But with the forgiveness, she would not let him be alone with her own daughter (his granddaughter). Forgiveness does not mean unsafe boundaries.
But thinking again about bearing another’s grievance, I have seen such tremendous hurt and broken relationship when we expect, even insist, that others bear our grievances. The thought goes, “how can you truly love me when this person has hurt me so badly — how can you still have a relationship with them?” To this I say, “why do you insist that others bear your grievance?” If forgiveness has truly been offered, the offended should want others to reach out to the offender and, perhaps, through love and gentle persuasion the offender will understand the hurt that has been caused.
We are on this earth for such a short time…why let hate, bitterness, and grievances build up like chains around our souls? Seek to truly forgive, and then allow others to move as God would have them and reach out to the offenders instead of bearing your bitterness and grievances — even “justified” grievances.
You see — the truth of the matter is that, at the end of the day, we are ALL offenders to someone. It is only through God’s grace that we have forgiveness and mercy. Let us seek to be healers in this life, not grievance holders. We will have a much more satisfying and blessed life, and so fulfill the deepest truth and meaning of the scriptures and our faith.