Life is full of events that hurt us that can lead us to resentment. Resentment is synonymous with unforgiveness and bitterness, but it works in our mind and emotions. Resentment becomes like a poison that prolongs the hurt, clouds the mind, steals joy, and drains our energy.
What is resentment? It comes from two words.
- Re: again.
- Sent: from the French “sentir” and Latin “sentire” root words meaning to feel and to sense.
It means to feel again the hurt, slight, wrong, insult, or offense. An offense is something that outrages the senses and emotions while resentment suggests a longer lasting indignation and smoldering ill will. Resentment appears to be a cluster of anger and thought. It is the anger that remains after the hurt. It is the state of holding something in the mind as a subject of contemplation or reflection. Hurt and injury are always involved.
When an expectation is not met we get hurt; this leads to anger, which leads to a decision to hold in the anger and hurt and re-feel it from time to time. It is holding on to or showing feelings of intense animosity (hatred/anger) or vindictiveness (wanting to get back at someone). A synonym is unforgiveness, bitterness, being merciless and holding a grudge.
It is as if we file away a hurt and grudge list and revisit it from time to time. Leviticus 19:17, 18 warns against silence that is holding hate and holding a grudge, “Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him. 18 Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the Lord.”
Resentment is a dead end; there is no place to go with it; it can only affect you negatively; it wastes time and energy; it is unproductive. We need to release it and let it go. Resisting the injury or hurt can end up hurting us more rather than forgiving them (which means to release or dismiss) and letting it go. We think if we forgive the people we resent:
They are getting away with something.
They are getting off the hook.
They are getting a gift they did not deserve.
In reality, forgiveness is a gift to us and lets us off the hook. As long as we resent and do not forgive we bind ourselves to that person because they owe us or an “I owe you” debt is established. We feel they owe us, but we need to release the debt because it frees us from them. We need to let it go as Ephesians 4:31, 32 tells us.
Ephesians 4:31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: 32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.