1 Corinthians 13 — Are You An Accountant of Love? — Keeping a Ledger of Every Wrong Done To You By Others

Posted: July 24, 2015 in 1 Corinthians

1 Corinthians 13 — This one is the toughest of the love is not phrases in this, the love chapter. Are you an accountant when it comes to your relationships? Do you keep a ledger on every relationship where you track what negative things a person has done to you? Paul says we should not be accountants of love!

How can I forgive someone who has done me wrong? How can I love someone who has spewed hate all over me? How can l love someone who has made it their life’s aim to destroy me? This is a question that I have pondered over the years when it comes to my first ex-wife. It has become an introspective thing for me here in the last couple of days as my grown children mourn the sudden passing of their mother, my first ex-wife. Our 13 year marriage was a rocky one and the divorce was stuff of made-for-TV movies. It was ugly. There were things that happened that should make me bitter towards her forever, according to worldly standards. However, it was only by the grace of God and my salvation in Jesus Christ that forgiveness ever came. Keeping nor records of wrongs does not mean you forget what happened but it does mean that you choose to forgive. It is only by the grace of God that our eyes are opened to the things that we have done to contribute to another’s person’s hateful actions.

Love keeps no record of wrongs. Man, that is a tough one. It is what separates worldly definitions of love from agape love. Divorce courts are full of “you did me wrong, I don’t love you anymore” cases. Relationships between family members are permanently destroyed because of recordkeeping. In this world, not just in husband-wife relationships, not just in family member relationships, but in all relationships, they can be destroyed by keeping records of wrongs. When we keep records of wrongs, we pull out those ledgers and look at them and remind ourselves of the pain that we felt at the hands of another. This is a message for everyone. Unless you live under a rock at the top of the Himalayan mountains, you have relationships with other people regardless of the degree of intensity of those relationships.

Love does not keep records of wrongs done to us. When we do that, we are not truly loving. When we do that, we do not reflecting the nature of God. When we keep records of wrongs done to us we are making those wrongs our gods. Idols do not have to be wooden, carved images that we worship. It can be our own pain and suffering. When we get swept up in life having to be perfect for us where no one hurts us, we can make the wrongs done to us our idols just as much as if it were a statue that we worship. People who let the wrongs done to them by others consume their very being, the very core of who they are, they let the thing the other person has done to them define them. There was a true story made into a movie back in the early 90’s called, “A Woman Scorned: The Betty Broderick Story” where a difficult marriage ended with the husband having an affair. Betty Broderick descends into the insanity of revenge and becomes consumed by attempting to destroy the life of her ex-husband. Betty eventually drives every person in her life away including her children. She becomes so consumed with vengeance that she ultimately breaks into the home of her ex-husband and his new wife and murders them while they sleep. This was a true story and an extreme example of how we get let the wrongs done to us by others consume us and destroy us and let those wrongs become our idols. We see it not only in marriage but in all kinds of relationships even ones that are less intense than marriage. I have an uncle who has not come around our family since the late 60’s because of something my grandfather said way back then. Even though my grandfather is gone, he refuses to mend fences with the rest of the family. How can we love when we keep records of wrongs? How can we expect others to love us when we break out that ledger of wrongdoing every time that person comes around? How can we love if we do not set aside wrongs done to us? When we don’t, it affects all of our relationships. When we don’t let go of wrongs, we make them our god and a false god at that.

When we keep records of wrongs done to us, we obsess about them. We obsess about what that other person did to us that we forget what wrongs we have done to others. We have a tendency of making the wrongs one-sided. In every relationship, we do wrongs to one another. Some things are small and inadvertent. Some things are big and purposely hurtful. We all hurt one another. When we refuse to see what we have done to contribute to the downfall of a relationship, it is often because we are so focused on what someone has done to us that we are blind to our own contributions. When we love, really love, we admit our own mistakes. When we love, we consider what we have done to contribute to the mean spot we find our relationship in. Although you can feel completely justified in having an affair because of some perceived or actual wrong that your spouse has committed, it does not make it right. As the old saying goes, two wrongs don’t make a right. Even though someone has hurt you badly, it is not the love of which Paul speaks to do something equally or even more mean to the one who hurt you. When someone has hurt us on purpose, we must examine ourselves before we lash out at them. If more husbands and wives took a look at themselves and how they contributed to the downfall of their marriages rather than trying to justify their own actions or reactions, there would be far less divorces today. I applaud my oldest daughter, Meghan, for not listening to us in our keeping records of wrongs and who is working on rebuilding her marriage and making it better. She is not keeping her record of wrongs. She is setting it aside because it takes two to tear a marriage down and it takes two to make it work. Forgiveness does not mean forgetting but it does mean setting our wrongs aside. Forgiveness does mean that we examine ourselves. Forgiveness does mean seeing other people as having the same ability to screw up as we do. Love means forgiving and setting aside the record of wrongs.

It is only through the grace of Jesus Christ that I can look back at my first marriage and see my mistakes, my reactions to her actions, and see that as the opposite of what a Christ-like response is. It is now these 20 something years later that I can look back on my relationship with my first ex-wife and think fondly of the good times not dwell on the bad. I think of two beautiful daughters that are unique to this world because of my first ex-wife and me. If I had these children by someone else, they would be my daughters but they would not be different from Meghan and Taylor. Meghan and Taylor are unique to Lisa and me. When I look back, I can remember the wrongs that she did to me which were very serious but also recognize the role that I played and no longer hold a grudge. As we celebrate Lisa’s life this Sunday, I am at peace with her and hopefully now she is at peace with me.

A line from one of the greatest movies of all time, Love Story, said that love means never having to say you’re sorry. I never agreed with that line. Love does mean setting aside your pride and saying you are sorry. Love means realizing that the people in our lives are flawed. Love means realizing that we are flawed. Love means giving and forgiving. Love means not being a recordkeeper or bean counter of the wrongs of another person. Love forgives. Love does not forget but it chooses to forgive.

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