Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Nursing a Grudge
Acts 24:27 ¶ After two years had passed, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus; and since he wanted to grant the Jews a favor, Felix left Paul in prison.
Acts 25:1 ¶ Three days after Festus had arrived in the province, he went up from Caesarea to Jerusalem
Acts 25:2 where the chief priests and the leaders of the Jews gave him a report against Paul. They appealed to him
Acts 25:3 and requested, as a favor to them against Paul, to have him transferred to Jerusalem. They were, in fact, planning an ambush to kill him along the way.
Acts 25:4 Festus replied that Paul was being kept at Caesarea, and that he himself intended to go there shortly.
Acts 25:5 “So,” he said, “let those of you who have the authority come down with me, and if there is anything wrong about the man, let them accuse him.”
Two years had now passed and Paul had been held in Caesarea. Felix had been the one in charge but now Festus had taken over. Only three days into his job he headed up to Jerusalem for some meetings and he was immediately confronted by the Jewish leaders. Two years had gone by and they were still mad about Paul and they were still planning an ambush to kill him!
You would think that after two years the leaders in Jerusalem would have settled down. Why is it that they are still so angry with Paul? Could it be that Paul’s imprisonment has not stopped the rapid spread of Christianity? They are angry because they are losing the power and authority that they have enjoyed and someone has to be the scapegoat! Surely, if only they could get rid of Paul everything would be better.
These leaders have had two years to thoughtfully consider what is happening around them. However, instead of being sensitive to God’s movement around them, they spent those two years nursing a grudge. One can only imagine that they blamed every problem they had on Paul and that sect of Nazarenes! In this way they didn’t have to deal with their own problems but could simply lay blame elsewhere. To be this angry after two years and have this as your main agenda item with a new leader who has only been on the job for three days means that you have been allowing this to fulminate for a long time! I can only imagine how angry and unhappy these chief priests and leaders had become.
This is what happens when we personally begin to nurse a grudge. We don’t deal with the real problems in life because we make others the scapegoat. We convince ourselves that we should be able to have this bad attitude because we are justified by someone else’s behavior. And the longer it goes on, the more that it consumes our lives, day in and day out.
Sadly the leaders never got to enjoy what God had in store for them. They had seen the Messiah and they had rejected him. They had witnessed the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and they were simply jealous. They had seen the transformation of Saul to Paul and they were angry. When we nurse grudges we simply become hardened, ugly and angry people. If there is any hurt or anger that we may be nursing today, maybe we ought to examine the root cause and we may discover that we are the ones who are being damaged for we will never find peace. Paul lived, even while imprisoned, in the peace of Christ. May the peace of Christ reach out to us today.
Lord, may I live in your peace. Amen.