Leo Held was a paragon of respectability. He was a middle-aged, hard-working lab technician who had worked at the same Pennsylvania paper mill for nineteen years. Having been a Boy Scout leader, an affectionate father, a member of the local fire brigade, and a regular church-goer, he was admired as a model in his community. Until . . .
. . . that image exploded in a well-planned hour of bloodshed one brisk October morning. Held decided to mount a one-man revolt against the world he inwardly resented. A proficient marksman, he stuffed two pistols into his coat pockets—a .45 automatic and a Smith and Wesson .38—before he drove his station wagon to the mill. Parking quietly, he gripped a gun in each fist, then slowly stalked into the shop. He started shooting with such calculated frenzy that it resembled a scene out of "Gunsmoke." He filled several of his fellow workmen with two and three bullets apiece, firing more than thirty shots in all . . . deliberately killing some of the men he had known for over fifteen years. When a posse was formed to capture the man, they found him standing in his doorway, snarling defiantly:
"Come and get me, you _________;
I'm not taking any more of your _______."
Total bewilderment swept over the neighborhood. Puzzled policemen and friends finally discovered a tenuous chain of logic behind his brief reign of terror. Down deep within the heart and soul of Leonard Held rumbled intense resentment. The man who had appeared like a monk on the outside was seething with murderous hatred within. A subsequent investigation led officials to numerous discoveries yielding such evidence. Several of the victims had been promoted over him while he remained in the same position. More than one in his car pool had quit riding with him due to his reckless driving. A neighbor had been threatened, then struck by Held after an argument over a fallen tree. The man was brimming with resentful rage that could be held in check no longer.
Beneath his picture in Time magazine, the caption told the truth:
So it is with resentment. Allowed to fester through neglect, the toxic fumes of hatred foam to a boil within the steamroom of the soul. Pressure mounts to a maddening magnitude. By then it's only a matter of time. The damage is always tragic, often irreparable:
- a battered child
- a crime of passion
- ugly, caustic words
- loss of a job
- a runaway
- a bad record
- domestic disharmony
- a ruined testimony
None of this is new. Solomon described the problem long ago:
Pretty words may hide a wicked heart, just as a pretty glaze covers a common clay pot.
A man with hate in his heart may sound pleasant enough, but don't believe him; for he is cursing you in his heart. Though he pretends to be so kind, his hatred will finally come to light for all to see. (Proverbs 26:23-26, TLB)
The answer to resentment isn't complicated, it's just painful. It requires honesty. You must first admit it's there. It then requires humility. You must confess it before the One who died for such sins. It may even be necessary for you to make it right with those you have offended out of resentful bitterness. Finally, it requires vulnerability—a willingness to keep that tendency submissive to God's regular reproof, and a genuinely teachable, unguarded attitude.
Nobody ever dreamed Leonard Held had a problem with resentment. And nobody dreams you do either.
Not yet . . .
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