In an interview Malcolm Muggeridge had with Joseph Stalin's daughter, Svetlana, she described her last memory of her infamous father. The setting was his deathbed, and she recalls how the last thing he did on this earth was raise himself up on his deathbed, and with his remaining strength, he shook his fist at the heavens. Then, he lay down and died. Stalin, once a seminary student, had turned against God with a hatred so deep that it fueled a bloody reign of terror in which he had 15 million of his countrymen murdered. His hatred characterized him, not only in life, but in death.
In Ezekiel 25:15, we read, "The Philistines dealt vengefully and took vengeance with a spiteful heart, to destroy because of the old hatred." The Philistines, century after century, had been the enemies of Israel. Their hatred was intense and scornful, for they "took vengeance with a spiteful heart, to destroy." The cause was an old, or perpetual hatred and enmity.
Someone correctly observed, "Hating people is like burning down your own house to get rid of a rat inside the wall." Old hatred, or holding grudges, is to the soul of man what quack grass is to a piece of fine farmland. Quack grass may begin growing in a field in a very unobtrusive manner. A bird may pluck a dry root from an infested plot, and drop it in the uninfested field. Or a small part of a root may cling to the muddy foot of a cow or horse, to be planted some distance away as the animal crosses the clean field. The owner may even inadvertently infest his own good land by transporting a root on a piece of machinery. In any event, it takes only a tiny root to begin the destructive process. In the Midwest, entire farms have been ruined for extended periods by quack grass infestation. Remember, "Old hatred is a prolonged form of suicide."
A little boy, when asked what forgiveness is, gave an excellent answer: "It is the odor that flowers breathe when they are trampled upon." Philip the Good, when some of his couriers would have persuaded him to punish a prelate who had mistreated him, declined, saying, "It is a fine thing to have revenge in one's power, but it is a finer thing not to use it."
Note: "The heaviest thing a person can carry is a grudge."
Dave Arnold, Pastor, Gulf Coast Worship Center, New Port Richey, Florida, 34654