What Does the Bible Say about Resentment?

Resentment has no place in a Christian’s heart. This can cause anger, bitterness, jealousy, and resentment to grow in our hearts. What the Bible does tell us is to let go of any resentful feelings towards others.

Contributing Writer
Published Dec 06, 2021
What Does the Bible Say about Resentment?

Resentment is defined as “a feeling of anger or displeasure about someone or something unfair.” Most people have struggled with feelings of resentment at some point in their life. The Bible talks about resentment in many places over the course of the Old Testament and the New Testament. Throughout the Bible, resentment is never painted in a good light.

A Resentful Heart

Resentment and bitterness are closely related to one another. When a person harbors resentment in their heart, they have bitter feelings toward that particular person, circumstance, or situation. A person can experience resentment and bitterness for a myriad of reasons.

Resentment can grow in the heart of a person after another individual morally offends them, hurts them, or continually sins against them. As an example, a woman may resent her husband if she knows he is cheating on her with another woman. Or a young teen may resent her parents because they will not let her go to a party.

Resentment is not something that has newly erupted on the scene. Feelings of bitterness and resentment stretch all the way back to Cain and Abel (Genesis 4:1-26). Cain held anger, bitterness, and resentment in his heart because God had accepted Abel’s sacrifice, but He rejected Cain’s sacrifice (Genesis 4:1-7).

Out of the resentment in Cain’s heart, he murdered his brother (Genesis 4:8). God cursed Cain and told him, “Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth” (Genesis 4:11-12).

As one can see, resentment is not good to carry around with you throughout your life. Also, in the Book of Genesis, sisters Leah and Rachel held resentment and bitterness towards each other, which resulted in “a baby-war that didn't end until Jacob had conceived 13 children by four different women.”

Leah resented Rachel because Jacob loved Rachel more than he ever loved Leah. These two women’s resentment toward one another caused animosity within their family and hatred to arise in the hearts of each other (Genesis 29:31-30:24).

Rather than being resentful of one another, Leah and Rachel should have offered forgiveness to one another. Job’s wife is another example of a person harboring resentment in their soul (Ibid.). Job and his wife had witnessed the total loss of everything they had — their home, their honor, and even their adult children.

Job never blames God, and he never holds any negative feelings towards the Lord. Rather than holding resentment to the Lord, Job praises God (Job 1:20-22). Job’s wife does not follow suit. Instead of turning to the Lord, Job’s wife allowed anger, hostility, and resentment to grow and fester in her heart.

Her ultimate proof of resentment toward God is found in these words that she tells Job, “Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!” (Job 2:9). Job’s wife let resentment control her to the point of cursing God in her heart.

Many of us have been in experiences where everything in our life seems as if it is falling apart. When we look around, it seems like everyone else’s lives are going perfectly fine.

This can cause anger, bitterness, jealousy, and resentment to grow in our hearts. Rather than letting these feelings fester in us like Job’s wife did, we should intentionally choose to be happy for those around us and ask God to help us remove any anger, jealousy, bitterness, or resentment from our hearts.

Choosing the Opposite

The Lord delights to help and through the working of the Holy Spirit in our inner being, He can help remove these negative feelings from the recesses of our hearts. If we leave resentment to worsen in our hearts, it can lead to many negative actions, such as what happened between Cain and Abel.

Resentment needs to be rooted out of our hearts so that we do not sin against the Lord and others. If we choose to resist bitterness and resentment, we will be happier and more productive for the Lord.

Resentment did not cease in the Old Testament. Findings of resentment are found in the gospel accounts. Since Jesus did not come in riding on a stallion to defeat the Romans, the people resented Him and wanted Him to be killed (Matthew 27:15-23). The Pharisees and other Jewish leaders held resentment against Jesus Christ because of His proclamation of being the Son of God.

The Pharisees did not want to submit to Jesus’ Lordship, and they rejected Him. As shown in the Old Testament, resentment at its worse can lead to murder. Cain held resentment to Abel, which resulted in Cain murdering Abel. The Pharisees, other Jewish rulers, and the people as a whole held resentment to Jesus and this led to murder.

Resentment has no place in a Christian’s heart. What the Bible does tell us is to let go of any resentful feelings towards others. Ephesians 4:31 says, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.” Jesus does not want us to hold bitter feelings toward others in our lives.

He tells us to choose to forgive them, “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins” (Mark 11:25). It is worthwhile to mention that forgiving a person does not mean you forget what they did, nor does it mean that what they did to you is “okay.”

What Does This Mean?

Forgiving means you are intentionally choosing to get the situation over to God and that you are forgiving them as the Lord forgave you. We do not deserve God’s forgiveness, yet He still extends it to us by placing faith in Jesus. In the same way, many people in our lives may not deserve forgiveness, but we still have to forgive them.

Even if they do not ask for our forgiveness, we still need to forgive them as the Lord forgave us (Ephesians 4:32). When we choose to intentionally forgive a person, bitterness, anger, and resentment will begin to loosen their grip on our hearts. The Lord can help you let go of these feelings and replace them with love, care, and compassion.

The Bible promises us that if we submit ourselves to God, the devil will flee from us (James 4:7). Satan wants us to grow angry, bitter, and resentful toward others, so he will fuel our hatred and hostility. If we choose to submit our feelings to God and ask Him for His help, God will help us and strengthen us (1 Peter 5:10).

The world pushes for the idea that resentment is normal and “fine” to have, but it is not. Think about all the songs, films, and other works of the world that glorify resentment. The Bible tells us resentment is not good and will only end in sin.

Choose today to remove resentment and bitterness from your heart. If we are honest with ourselves, holding resentment toward others only makes us feel worse.

You do not need to spend any more of your days in resentment of others. Jesus died in order for you to have abundant life, not only for eternity but also for every day of your life (John 10:10). The Lord loves you and He is ready to help you pluck resentment out of your heart. Resentment can cause scars on our hearts, but God is ready to help bind up your wounds (Psalm 147:3).

For further reading:

How Can I Overcome Jealousy? 

Meaning and Importance of Cain and Abel: Bible Story and Verses

How Can We Be Thankful When There Seems to Be Nothing?

What Does it Mean ‘In Your Anger Do Not Sin’?

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/francescoch

Vivian BrickerVivian Bricker loves Jesus, studying the Word of God, and helping others in their walk with Christ. She has earned a Bachelor of Arts and Master's degree in Christian Ministry with a deep academic emphasis in theology. Her favorite things to do are spending time with her family and friends, reading, and spending time outside. When she is not writing, she is embarking on other adventures.


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