Resentment – The Silent Destroyer

Hebrews 12:12-17 (Good News Translation) – Renew your Spiritual Vitality

“12 Lift up your tired hands, then, and strengthen your trembling knees! 13 Keep walking on straight paths, so that the lame foot may not be disabled, but instead be healed.

14 Try to be at peace with everyone, and try to live a holy life, because no one will see the Lord without it. 15 Guard against turning back from the grace of God. Let no one become like a bitter plant that grows up and causes many troubles with its poison. 16 Let no one become immoral or unspiritual like Esau, who for a single meal sold his rights as the older son. 17 Afterward, you know, he wanted to receive his father’s blessing; but he was turned back, because he could not find any way to change what he had done, even though in tears he looked for it.”

Other scriptures:

Acts 8:23 (NKJV) “For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity.”

What is resentment?

The definition of Resentment is: bitter indignation at having been treated unfairly. It is also known as bitterness. Resentment or bitterness is the basic foundation of hatred. It involves disgust, sadness, and surprise in the sense of the perception of injustice. It additionally combines the feelings of fear, anger, and disappointment.

Quotes from various authors

“Resentment keeps anger alive until you are willing do to something different.” – Unknown

“Resentment always hurts you more than it does the person you resent.” – Rick Warren

“Unforgiveness is choosing to stay trapped in a jail cell of bitterness, serving time for someone else’s crime.” – Unknown

“Bitterness is believing God got it wrong, worry is not believing God will get it right, and unforgiveness is believing you are right even after God says you are wrong.” – Unknown

For man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.” (James 1:20)

How does resentment it come about?

One way resentment comes about:

Resentment comes about when we have an expectation that has not been met. A person will resent another person when they expected something of them, without communicating this expectation clearly, and both parties agreeing on this expectation. Thus, the person who resents actually also has to face the unrealistic expectation when the other party was not part of the agreed upon expectation. Take responsibility for the unrealistic expectation you had of the person.

And if you communicate the expectation but the other party doesn’t want to do it, you need to deal with the person being different and doesn’t want to commit to the expectation, and you need to let go and move on. Realise that this person will not meet you at that expectation. Then you need to decide if you want to continue with this relationship or not. Do you move on or do you stay. If you do stay you will need to accept the person as they are without the expectations you envisioned of this person.

Another way resentment comes about: (according to various sources)

The feeling can be caused by several different situations, however, they all involve a sense of injustice or wrongdoing from an individual. For example, public humiliation, constant discrimination or prejudice, being taken advantage of, feeling unrecognized, envy and jealousy can all result in resentment. Perhaps someone said mean, hurtful things, acted thoughtlessly, or did not do enough in terms of what the resentful individual feels should have happened. Those who experience this constantly replay thoughts and feelings that are related to the unjust event, and often refuse to forgive and move on.

Holding on to the negative emotions is harmful to your emotional health and can impact your quality of life. In the words of Malachy McCourt, “Resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die.”

Resentment can become a part of your identity, a part of who you are as a person.  You move from showing resentful behaviour to being a resentful person and there is a large difference between the two. Once you start saying that you are a particular kind of person, it sometimes is threatening to change the identity.  So often people will live with an identity—a sense of self, a sense of who one is—that is compromising for them because they are afraid of change.  The familiar is better than the alternative even if the familiar includes pain and unnecessary suffering.

The longer resentment lingers:

“To psychologists, resentment over a long period of time can be an unhealthy response to injustice, sometimes an injustice that won’t quit such as continual demeaning comments from a partner or the unreasonable demands of a boss who just doesn’t “get it.”  Resentment in cases like these represents a development in one’s anger from mild to deeper…….and it lingers. This kind of resentment can lead to unhappiness, continual irritability, and psychological compromise including excessive anxiety and depression.” (Enright & Fitzgibbons, 2015).

How to overcome resentment

Resentment flourishes on negative feelings and grows more powerful when we are unwilling to forgive and release emotional pain. The body feels these negative feelings directly and can manifest them in physical ailments and even pain. If you do not confront and deal with resentment, it could linger for a long time or even the rest of your life.

To overcome these negative thoughts, let’s look at the scriptures. The word of God always has the solution:

  1. Trust God to use bad for good (Romans 8:28)
  2. Put your hope in God alone (Psalm 62)
  3. Focus on the good in your life (Philippians 4:8)
  4. Pray for your offender (Romans 12:14)
  5. Don’t let Satan condemn you (1 Peter 5:8-9)
  6. Wait patiently for God to restore (1 Peter 5:10)
  7. Listen to God’s conviction (1 John 1:9)
  8. Depend on God’s power (Philippians 4:13)
  9. Do it for Christ (1 Corinthians 6:20)
  10. Know who you are in Christ (Galatians 3:26-29)

“Resentment and bitterness cannot take root in a heart that is filled with God’s love and compassion.”

Ephesians 4:31-32 “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behaviour. Instead, be kind to each other, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Jesus has forgiven you.”

Colossians 3:13 “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievance you may have against one anther. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

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