Matthew 5:21-24, “You’re familiar with the command to the ancients, ‘Do not murder.’ I’M TELLING YOU THAT ANYONE WHO IS SO MUCH AS ANGRY WITH A BROTHER OR SISTER IS GUILTY OF MURDER. Carelessly call a brother ‘idiot!’ and you just might find yourself hauled into court. Thoughtlessly yell ‘stupid!’ at a sister and you are on the brink of hellfire. The simple moral fact is that words kill.“This is how I want you to conduct yourself in these matters. If you enter your place of worship and, about to make an offering, you suddenly remember a GRUDGE a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right. Then and only then, come back and work things out with God.” (MSG)
As for me as a kid, and as a parent with kids, one of my all-time favorite shows was and still is, “Sesame Street.” It was always the ideal show for young people. They learned abc’s, 123’s, manners, how to tie their shoes, friendship and the like. Which is all the polar opposite of what’s available to children to watch on television today. Truth is, I find very little educational programming for youth nowadays, which is quite disturbing. You see, there was a time when children were taught how to dress, how to speak, how to respect their elders, the importance of education, the love of family, picking the right friends, being kind and being nice. They were taught to say no to drugs, and that alcohol was bad for them. They were taught how to expand their vocabulary, and they were greatly encouraged to listen to their parents, and enjoy reading many books in the library (believe it or not, but there was a time when we physically took children to the library, instead of visiting an app on their phone). They were taught to do their chores. They were taught to get along with their siblings. They were taught not to speak to strangers. They were taught to listen to their teachers and do well in school as well as complete all of their homework assignments, even over the holiday weekends. So many tremendous lessons children Used to learn, and not just by family, friends and teachers, but there was a time when even television had more Education than Entertainment, even for children.
Which makes me ponder the thought, have our children willfully detoured and gotten off track, or did we willfully stop driving them in the right direction? Did they simply go astray, or did we stop keeping them from going astray? Did they really just wake up one morning and decide to drop out of school, have sex, produce children, curse out parents, go to jail, do drugs and alcohol, violently bully (and record it), or end up at the clinic with multiple std’s? Did they suddenly wake up one morning with purple hair, green eyes, pierced tongues, and tattoo’s over 90% of their bodies? I think not! We, as adults, played a huge part in the lack of character among many of our young people. There was a time in which we protected them, now we simply pretend as though it’s all their fault, they simply woke up this way one morning, with no assistance from us at all!
Which is why as for me and my kids, “Sesame Street” was and still is, indeed a show which had and has such a great love for children that protects their heart, ears, eyes, and mind. If only we could get more programming like this for our children today. If only we could have more programming like that for us as adults today! “Sesame Street” help us!
And with that in mind, let’s see if you remember this: What famous TV personality said these words: “I love trash!” You guessed it, Sesame Street fans, Oscar the Grouch, who even lived in a trash can.
Now listen, I’ve got a few idiosyncrasies; not nearly as many as everybody else I know, but one of those is that it’s very important to me that my trash gets picked up once a week. When I lived in an apartment with my 2 daughters, I would always try to be faithful in getting the trash out of the house and out to the street like I’m supposed to on the day it’s supposed to be there. I’ve always been such a neat and clean freak, so trash is one thing I hate to have in my house. So I’ve always been very diligent about getting trash to where it needs to be, on time, consistently. But then I wondered about something: What if the trash man doesn’t come this week? What if he didn’t come for two weeks? What if he didn’t show up for three weeks? What should I do?
What about taking my trash problem to all my neighbors? What if I went to each of them and said, “My trash wasn’t picked up!” And then I leave them and go tell the mailman, “Do you know what? That trash man didn’t come and pick up my trash!” And most certainly I think I should advise my pastor and let him know, “Pastor, I’m not getting my trash picked up!” And since I spend so much time weekly at the supermarket, naturally I think I should inform the checkout girl while I’m at the grocery store; “you know what girl? They haven’t picked up my trash in three weeks!” Not to mention, I do a lot of traveling so of course the gas attendant at the gas station must be included in this issue, right? “Mr. gas man, did you know my trash has yet to be picked up!“
And if I did all of that, at some point you’d say, “Shermaine, aren’t you missing a pretty obvious step here?” And you know what? I’d have to agree. You see, in all of my “trash storytelling” I forgot to talk to the only person who can explain why the trash is still there; I didn’t talk to the only person who can change it – THE TRASH MAN! I needed to talk to the one Responsible for the trash! But instead, I talked to everybody else about it, except him. Which reminds me a lot of how Christians today handle their Relationship Conflicts with other Christians!
Our text is found in Matthew 5:21-24. You may recognize this as coming from The Sermon on The Mount and Jesus is speaking. He says this: “You’re familiar with the command to the ancients, ‘Do not murder.’ I’m telling you that anyone who is so much as angry with a brother or sister is guilty of murder. Carelessly call a brother ‘idiot!’ and you just might find yourself hauled into court. Thoughtlessly yell ‘stupid!’ at a sister and you are on the brink of hellfire. The simple moral fact is that words kill.“This is how I want you to conduct yourself in these matters. If you enter your place of worship and, about to make an offering, you suddenly remember a GRUDGE a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right. Then and only then, come back and work things out with God.” (MSG)
Now, what Jesus is saying here in its most simplistic form is, “Don’t come to Me until you’ve gone to your brother or sister, FIRST, and made things right with them.” That’s interesting isn’t it? He says, “Even though you’re bringing a sacrifice in your hands, which is the holiest thing that a Jew could do at that time, even though you’re coming to worship Me, you and I don’t have much to talk about until you’ve gotten that conflict-that tension-squared away with your brother or sister.” “…If you enter your place of worship and, about to make an offering, you suddenly remember a GRUDGE a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right. THEN AND ONLY THEN, COME BACK AND WORK THINGS OUT WITH GOD.” (MSG)
You remember what I said about telling everyone about the trash man and my problem with him? That’s unfortunately how we handle problems with each other, as Christians no less. We go talk to everybody else about it Except the person there’s the problem with. We take all sorts of evasive action to avoid confronting someone. Oh, we’re subtle about it, we ask for prayer, “Lord, you know…”, “Please pray for me will you?”, “Ask the Lord about this.” And of course we get into sanctified gossip with our prayer requests sometimes, or we just unload it on our friends. We complain, we keep score, we sputter that he should know better. But have you talked to the person who has hurt you? Have you talked to the person maybe that YOU have hurt?
Just like Sesame Street, gave basics to children on how to get along, the Bible teaches God’s children how to get along with one another. And even when we come up against “sibling rivalry” we are already given the directives on how to handle it. And how we handle it is not by picking up our trash and walking all throughout the church, the house, the job, and even social media with it, sharing it with people that have no involvement in it or responsibility for it. You need to go to that person, not all persons! Listen to Scripture: Matthew 18:15-17, “If a fellow believer hurts you, GO AND TELL HIM—WORK IT OUT BETWEEN THE TWO OF YOU. If he listens, you’ve made a friend. If he won’t listen, take one or two others along so that the presence of witnesses will keep things honest, and try again. If he still won’t listen, tell the church. If he won’t listen to the church, YOU’LL HAVE TO START OVER FROM SCRATCH, confront him with the need for repentance, and offer again God’s forgiving love.” (MSG)
Did you catch that? “…If a fellow believer hurts you, GO AND TELL HIM—WORK IT OUT BETWEEN THE TWO OF YOU…” (MSG) Nothing about that said to take your hurt to the usher board, ministerial staff, or your cousin Boo-Boo! And this is where we screw things up and get real messy. Instead of dealing with the individual, we go and find everyone, Except the individual of course, and share trash!
Look at it like this: And try your best to get a good visual of this. My trash hasn’t been picked up in 2 weeks, so I physically pick up all my garbage bags (as funky as they are after 3 weeks) and take them neighbor by neighbor, knocking on each door, going to each floor, going to each house, just to tell them about the trash I’m holding that the trash man didn’t pick up. Then I talk to people on the street, and tell them about my trash that the trash man didn’t pick up. Then since I’m passing the laundromat, gas station, supermarket, banks, pharmacy, florist…I take the time to go into each establishment and share with them my trash that the trash man didn’t pick up. Now, as you are well aware, trash stinks! And the longer you hold on to it, the funkier it gets! So as I take my time going to everybody, but the one somebody, my trash is getting funkier by the minute! As time goes by, the longer I hold on to my trash, the greater the stench! And even though it’s not my fault that my trash wasn’t picked up, but because I’m holding it, and carrying it, and sharing it, the worse it gets, and the worse I get too! The worse it smells, the worse I smell also! Because it is impossible to carry trash and the odor not eventually get on you too!
Have you ever been stuck in a car or walking down the street and there’s the garbage truck!?! The smell is horrendous! And it’s not just because there’s trash in it, but because of how long the trash has been in it, and all the remains it leaves behind! Why do you think people respond the way they do when they see the garbage truck? No one wants to be on the same block, let alone stuck behind it or walking near it. Why? BECAUSE IT STINKS! So people do whatever they need to, to avoid any contact with it.
Could that be the way some people feel about you? Do you have a funky disposition? A nasty attitude? A dirty mouth and mind? A filthy heart? Messy motives? Grimy intentions? Before you go thinking that people just have it in for you, maybe you should take some time to re-evaluate your behavior. Do people see you and smell the garbage truck coming?
You know the saddest part about all of this is, you don’t have to keep carrying your trash. You just need to take it to the right person to help you clean it up. The Bible clearly says, “…abandon your offering, leave immediately, GO TO THIS FRIEND AND MAKE THINGS RIGHT. Then and only then, come back and work things out with God.” (MSG); “If a fellow believer hurts you, GO AND TELL HIM—WORK IT OUT BETWEEN THE TWO OF YOU…”
You say, “Well, if they’ll make the first move…” But that’s not what Jesus said. He says, “YOU make the first move.” Honestly, you’ll more often than not, be surprised – if you’ll just talk TO them – about the reasons behind their actions. Maybe YOU have totally misinterpreted their actions. It may clear up all kinds of misunderstanding; it could get rid of the growing cancer of bitterness inside of you. And even if they don’t respond, you have dealt with the bitterness and anger that the Bible says causes you to forfeit the grace of God. And most of all, even if it doesn’t resolve the relationship, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that you’ve done it Jesus’ way. You have obeyed the Scriptures.
One of the most disobeyed commandments of Jesus is to settle it with your brother. I think we ought to be asking each other, when someone comes to us with a problem about another person, “Have you talked to THEM? Have you talked to the REAL PERSON involved?” Because the key to healing broken relationships is to NOT go to any more outsiders. Go direct!
Oscar was a Grouch who lived with a Grudge because he lived in Garbage. Have you become Oscar? Have you become a Grouch with a Grudge because you’re living with and in Garbage? Then why stay that way when you were never intended to?
Today, is a great day for a new beginning. For those who have hurt you, stop taking your gifts to the church and trying to hide behind them. No, the Bible tells you to leave it there, and go to who hurt you, so you both can heal. Don’t attempt to shout, run, praise, worship, pray, serve, lead, sing, dance, preach, teach your way out. Your simple and only Biblical way out of it, is to go to the person directly (with no crowd, no audience, no performers, no back-up, no instigators), just you and them. Talk and clear the air between the two of you. That’s what mature believers do.
In addition, if someone dares to come to you about an ISSUE that has nothing to do with you…UNSUBSCRIBE!
Stop allowing people to dump their garbage on you. In the end, you’ll smell just as funky as the garbage you allowed to be dumped in your life (head, heart and hearing). Don’t let people disrespect you by deeming you worthy of their trash. You weren’t apart of piling it up, so don’t be a part of getting rid of it! Use wisdom and remind them of what our Sesame Street Scriptures teach the Children of God: GO TO YOUR BROTHER/SISTER AND BETWEEN THE 2 OF YOU, FIX WHAT THE 2 OF YOU BROKE!
Stop allowing people to make you the repairman of what they’ve damaged! That is not your responsibility, it’s theirs!
Have you ever paid attention to the tables in a court case? There’s 2. And the only people at those tables are those Directly Involved. Even witnesses don’t sit at those tables. They approach, share their portion that involves them, and leave! You need to learn how to do the very same. Either you’re at the defense table, the prosecution table, or you’re brief seating at the witness stand. Wherever you are Supposed to be, be there. And if you aren’t a part of any one of these, LEAVE THE WHOLE CASE ALONE!
If you’re problem is with your spouse, you take it up with your spouse (not your friends and family). If it’s your children, take it up with your children (not the missionary circle). If it’s with your auxiliary, take it up with your auxiliary, not one that has absolutely nothing to do with it. If it’s with your coworker, take it up with them, not during choir rehearsal with people who don’t even know who you’re talking about. If it’s with a friend, take it up Specifically with that friend, alone (not with all your relatives at your family reunion)!
Messy people take trash everywhere except where it’s supposed to be. Don’t be messy. Keep the trash contained, and deal with it with the only person that helped you create it. Don’t spread your trash. Don’t spread your odor. Don’t be a Grouch With a Grudge because of Garbage!
Do you know what a “grouch” is? It’s defined as “a habitually grumpy person; a constant complainer; an ill-tempered person.” Its Old French Origin is “grouchier” which literally means “to grumble, or murmur”. And “grudge” is defined as “a persistent feeling of ill will or resentment resulting from a past insult or injury; to be resentfully unwilling to grant or allow (something).” Its Origin comes from “grutch” which means “to murmur or grumble”. And is directly linked to the word “grouch” (unsurprisingly). Note, a grouch grumbles, complains and murmurs Habitually. And what does that mean? “Something done constantly, regularly, all the time, as their usual and norm.” Do you really want that to be descriptive of you? As someone who is always, constantly, regularly, all the time, as their usual, as their norm, murmuring and complaining? Stop walking around as a grouch with a grudge that smells worse than garbage! Today, go to your sanitation friend and make things Right. Because a believer with a funky attitude and disposition is Wrong!
Learn how to treat the Scriptures as your personal Sesame Street. The place where you learn the basics on how to behave as a Child of God should.
Now that you know better, do better. You will most certainly smell better!
Leviticus 19:18, “Don’t seek revenge or carry a GRUDGE against any of your people. “Love your neighbor as yourself. I am God.” (MSG);
Psalm 103:6-18, “God makes everything come out right; he puts victims back on their feet. He showed Moses how he went about his work, opened up his plans to all Israel. God is sheer mercy and grace; not easily angered, he’s rich in love. He doesn’t endlessly nag and scold, nor hold GRUDGES forever. He doesn’t treat us as our sins deserve, nor pay us back in full for our wrongs. As high as heaven is over the earth, so strong is his love to those who fear him. And as far as sunrise is from sunset, he has separated us from our sins. As parents feel for their children, God feels for those who fear him. He knows us inside and out, keeps in mind that we’re made of mud. Men and women don’t live very long; like wildflowers they spring up and blossom, But a storm snuffs them out just as quickly, leaving nothing to show they were here. God’s love, though, is ever and always, eternally present to all who fear him, Making everything right for them and their children as they follow his Covenant ways and remember to do whatever he said.” (MSG);
2 Corinthians 2:9-11, “The focus of my letter wasn’t on punishing the offender BUT ON GETTING YOU TO TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE HEALTH OF THE CHURCH. So if you forgive him, I forgive him. Don’t think I’m carrying around a list of personal GRUDGES. The fact is that I’m joining in with your forgiveness, as Christ is with us, guiding us. After all, we don’t want to unwittingly give Satan an opening for yet more mischief—we’re not oblivious to his sly ways!” (MSG);
Philippians 4:2, “[Pray About Everything ] I urge Euodia and Syntyche to iron out their differences and make up. God doesn’t want his children holding GRUDGES.” (MSG);
Ephesians 4:27, “And do not give the devil an opportunity [to lead you into sin by holding a GRUDGE, or nurturing anger, or harboring resentment, or cultivating bitterness].” (MSG)
“Holding grudges. Judging others. Hating. Wanting to cause harm. Withholding forgiveness. Gossiping. Ridiculing. Ignoring others. Withholding mercy. Throwing stones. STOP IT!” (Dieter F. Uchtdorf)
“Grudges are like hand grenades; it is wise to release them before they destroy you.” (Barbara Johnson)
“To carry a grudge is like being stung to death by one bee.” (William H. Walton)
“Let your hands be so busy catching blessings that you don’t have the capacity to hold onto grudges.” (Author Unknown)
“Rather than hold grudges, I prefer to remember the lessons learnt to keep me prepared for our next encounter.” (Natalie Tomlinson)
“Let go! How would your life be different if you learned to let go of things that have already let go of you? From relationships long gone, to old grudges, to regrets, to all the ‘could’ve’ and ‘should’ve’ to the dead friendships you still hang on to. Free yourself from the burden of a past you cannot change.” (Dr. Steve Maraboli)
“When you hold a grudge, you want someone else’s sorrow to reflect your level of hurt but the two rarely meet.” (Dr. Steve Maraboli)
“Holding a grudge is never positive or appropriate.” (John C. Maxwell)
“Grudges are for those who insist that they are Owed something; forgiveness, however, is for those who are Substantial enough to move on.” (Criss Jami)
“Don’t carry a grudge. While you’re carrying the grudge the other guy’s out dancing.” (Author Unknown)
“Holding a grudge and harboring anger and resentment is poison to the soul. Get even with people, but not those who have hurt us, forget them, instead get even with those who have helped us.” (Dr. Steve Maraboli)
“Grudges seldom hurt anyone except the one bearing them.” (Sherrilyn Kenyon)
“The heaviest thing you can carry is a grudge.” (Author Unknown)
“Don’t hold a grudge. It takes up room in your heart; it takes up time in your life; it takes up space in your mind.” (John Wooden)
“Resentment and grudges are things we dare not collect in our spirits, for they will spoil and rot, producing poison that will contaminate our words as well as our actions.” (Rick Orrell)
“Forgiveness: Anyone can hold a grudge, but it takes a person with character to forgive. When you forgive, you release yourself from a painful burden. Forgiveness doesn’t mean what happened was OK, and it doesn’t mean that person should still be welcome in your life. It just means you have made peace with the pain, and are ready to let it go.” (Doe Zantamata)
“Stop Holding Grudges! Don’t live your life with hate in your heart. You will end up hurting yourself more than the people you hate. Forgiveness is not saying, ‘What you did to me is okay.’ It is saying, ‘I’m not going to let what you did to me ruin my happiness forever.’ Forgiveness is the answer. Let go, find peace, liberate yourself. And remember, forgiveness is not just for other people, it’s for you too. If you must, forgive yourself, move and try to do better next time.” (Author Unknown)
“Let today be the day you finally release yourself from the imprisonment of past grudges and anger. Simplify your life. Let go of the poisonous past and live the abundantly beautiful present…Today.” (Dr. Steve Maraboli)
“I used to hold grudges until I realized that most people are narcissistic and their actions are driven by an unhealthy self-interest and not by maliciousness towards me. I have since freed myself from this needless burden.” (Dr. Steve Maraboli)
“Life is too Short for Long-term grudges.” (Elon Musk)
“Holding a grudge doesn’t make you strong; it makes you bitter. Forgiving doesn’t make you weak; it sets you free.” (Dave Willis)
“Grudges are a waste of perfect happiness. Laugh when you can, apologize when you should, and let go of what you cannot change.” (Author Unknown)
“Holding a grudge is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” (Author Unknown)
“Holding a grudge is like letting someone live rent free in your head.” (Author Unknown)
“You could hold on to more precious memories if your hands weren’t so full of the grudges you are carrying so closely.” (Author Unknown)
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