In June 2012, Carl Ericsson, 73, was sentenced to life in prison for murder. Carl murdered Norman Johnson, a former high school classmate.
The story goes that Carl rang the doorbell, verified the man at the door was Norman, and shot Norman dead.
Friends and family members were shocked that the once-successful insurance salesman seemed to snap. But after the murder, Carl’s secret finally came out.
For more than 50 years, a grudge simmered within Carl. Carl was still angry with Norman because of what Norman did to him 50 years earlier.
The incident occurred in the high school locker room. Norman pulled a jock strap over Carl’s head. It humiliated Carl and planted a seed of resentment that continued to grow for more than 50 years.
Author Max Lucado writes that resentment is when you let your hurt become hate. Resentment is when you allow what is eating you to eat you up. Resentment is when you poke, stoke, feed, and fan the fire, stirring the flames and reliving the pain.
Resentment is the deliberate decision to nurse the offense until it becomes a black, furry, growling grudge.
This kind of resentment is expressed in a song sung by country singer Patty Loveless entitled, “Blame it on Your Heart.” The chorus of the song says, “So blame it on your lying, cheating, cold dead-beating, two-timing, double-dealing, mean mistreating, loving heart.”
That song became very successful because it touched a nerve. People identified with the pain and hurt. It defined reality for a lot of people. People do carry resentment in their heart.
And there are people in the church who have resentment dwelling in them. They have anger and hatred and bitterness and resentment that need to be released.
As a follower of Jesus, I encourage you to release your resentment. I encourage you to let it go. Set it free.
How do you do that?
The first action is to vent. Express your feelings in a healthy way. Disclose your anger and frustration. Air your grievances. Voice and vent the reason for your hurt. Get it out of your system. Don’t bottle it up. Don’t hold it in. Let it loose.
The second action is to view. Access the fallout. Process the damage. When you are angry, you have no peace. Your purpose in life gets diverted. When you are angry, you are not as productive as you could be. When you are angry, your perspective gets distorted. Little things annoy you instead of the big things.
The third action is to veer. Progress toward forgiveness. The word “veer” means to change direction, to turn, to swerve, to shift, to progress toward something. If you have a fist full of resentment, you begin to release one finger, and then another, until the hurt is gone. You progress toward forgiveness.
The Apostle Paul wrote in Ephesians 4:31-32 (NLT), “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander; as well as all types of malicious behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. ”
God wants you to release resentment with forgiveness.