by Brandy Webb
Has this ever happened to you? You are in a heated discussion/argument with someone, and either you or the other person lashes out by bringing up things from the past. Or, have you ever known someone that has a rolodex in their mind that keeps records of every wrong done to them, and they can whip out that card at any given moment to rehash something from the past?
Well, I have met some who have a really awesome memory, but, unfortunately, it can also be a detriment to them. I don’t have a great memory. In fact, I can barely remember what I wore yesterday, but I have been known, in heated discussions with my husband, to have moments of memory uploads to use against him. It isn’t right though, to attack someone with some past wrong. It isn’t love either.
Love “keeps no record of wrongs” (1 Cor 13:5, NIV). I like how the NIV states this scripture. The KJV just says “thinketh no evil.” The word “thinketh” in the Greek is logizomai, which means “to take an inventory.” Therefore, love doesn’t take inventory of evil. The point is many translations translate it mainly that love does not take an inventory of evil done to it.
Love is the greatest gift of the Spirit (1 Cor 13:13), and it is also one of the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22). God is also love (1 John 4:8; 4:16b). Therefore, it isn’t this simple emotion. It is a power from God. Yet, we have to choose to love because God gave us free will. He will not force us to love. Plus, it isn’t easy to love the way God wants us to love.
How many people have lost friendships because of not letting go of a wrong done to them? How many Christians don’t talk to other Christians because of some past wrong done to them? Isn’t this harboring resentment? Is this what the Messiah would do?
If the Messiah attacked us for every past wrong we have done to Him, we probably wouldn’t be here. In fact, He may have just given up and told the Father that they needed to start over. Yet, He didn’t because He knows how to really love someone. He knows how not to take inventory of past evils. He knows how to forgive when we repent (Psalm 103:12), and we are to act like that also. That is why love is a gift and fruit of the Spirit because the Spirit freely gives us a portion of love, and it is up to us to make it ripen into good fruit. Therefore, if we don’t feed the gift of love within us, and instead feed our carnal flesh of selfishness and resentment, we run the risk of love shriveling away to almost nothing.
This one characteristic of love, to not take inventory of past evils, is really shown in the prodigal son story. I know that the majority of you know the story; if you don’t, it is found in Luke 15. I want you to notice the context that is going on when Jesus tells the story. Sinners and tax collectors were coming to hear His teachings, and the Pharisees and scribes were murmuring in the background, getting angry that Jesus was welcoming sinners. What were the Pharisees and scribes doing? They were taking account of the other people’s sins and holding it against them. So, Jesus rebukes their lack of love by telling them parables, and one of them is about the prodigal son.
Now, the person in this story that we should strive to be is the father who welcomes his son back, because most of us have already done the role of the prodigal. That is why we repent and get baptized. So, those of us who are baptized had better be acting like the father, not the brother. Yet, I fear that sometimes we act like the brother. We tend to hold onto anger and resentment towards the sinner, forgetting that we are sinners also. We want to lash out and carry on about this and that wrong done to us. We want to slam the door in the other person’s face, not feed them and give them the best robe, but when we act like the brother, we are not acting in love.
Holding onto past wrongs done to you is not healthy. It isn’t showing forgiveness—and remember, if you can’t forgive you can’t be forgiven (Matt 6:15). It is quenching God’s spirit of love within you, and it can destroy you from the inside out. We have seen this in our COGs over the past years. Anger, resentment, grudges, etc., destroying the groups from the inside out and dividing God’s people. This is not love, and if we can’t act in love, what hope is there for those on the outside to know how to act in love? We are to set the example. We are held at a higher standard. Therefore, if you still have a database of past wrongs done to you, you had better repent and pray for God to erase the database. Destroy the inventory. Let go of the resentment, and learn to love.