Summary: Loving people means you forgive them as God forgives you.
Early in my relationship with Ann, before we were married, I did a number of really stupid things in our relationship.
• There was the time she sent me a “swatch” watch for my birthday and when she called me the first thing I said was “I wanted a blue one” instead of “thank you”
• I won’t bore you with the details – but I actually tried to break up with her on 3 different occasions over the course of 2 years of long-distance relationship.
Somehow we ended up making it through my stupid mistakes and we’ve enjoyed almost 15 years of marriage. But we wouldn’t have made it without Ann’s willingness and ability to forgive.
Today, as we continue our series called “Nothing Beats Love”, we come to 3 descriptions of love that help us understand what forgiveness is all about. After telling us that…
Love is patient, love is kind
Love does not envy, does not boast, it is not proud
Love is not rude, it is not self seeking
Paul continues by writing…
1 Corinthians 13:5b-6 (NIV) [Love] is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
All 3 of these relate to our need to forgive people when they wrong us. Let’s take a look at them in turn, and seek to understand not only what Paul means but how we are to live this way today.
Love is not easily angered.
In the Greek this quite simply says “love is not angered” or “love is not provoked”. Other translations of this verse have rendered this phrase like this:
“it is not touchy or fretful or resentful” (Amplified Bible)
“it is not irritable” (New Living Translation)
“it is not provoked” (New American Standard)
I like that last one the best because it puts it so simply. Godly love for another person refuses to be provoked into an argument.
We all know the feeling of being in a conversation that turns into an argument, that turns into a shouting match. This happens when we lose perspective that our relationship with this person is far more important than being right, or being respected, or winning.
So the first way to apply the truth that love forgives is to not allow yourself to be provoked and easily angered. If you learn to let things roll off your back you’ll find there is a lot less “forgiving” that needs to be done. We know that we are much more prone to remember situations in which our emotions were at extremes – and so if we are able to allow God’s work in us to keep us from getting so bothered when people wrong us, we’ll find it much easier to forget about the whole situation.
If you find that you are irritable, touchy, easily provoked, the antidote you need is love. And the source of it is God’s Holy Spirit.
TRANS: But there is more to learning to forgive than just becoming a person who is not provoked easily. Sometimes we have to learn to let go of the wrongs that have been done to us. That’s where Paul goes next, when he says…
Love keeps no record of wrongs.
There are a couple of ways this phrase could be interpreted and it’s important that we understand what Paul was talking about here. This makes it sound like if we really forgive someone the way God forgives then we won’t even remember it.
I don’t think that’s true. In fact I believe if forgiveness is ever really going to happen then you and I have to acknowledge that we have been wronged. Forgiveness does not ignore the hurt and act like it isn’t there. It doesn’t pretend it didn’t happen or sweep the feelings of anger and distrust under the rug.
Literally what Paul said in this phrase is love does not count, reckon; regard, or consider the wrongs done. IN other words, love refuses to keep mulling over a wrong done. Love doesn’t store them up and it doesn’t hold those wrongs over the head of the person who did them.
And this is what is so difficult about forgiving. Although it is impossible to actually forget the wrongs – you can make the choice to stop keeping score.
ILLUS: I’m a really gifted scorekeeper. I’m not supposed to keep track of the score in Ryan’s soccer games – but I secretly mark down the score on my clipboard. Actually I don’t even need to make the tally marks because I’m able to keep track of it in my head. But last week I could see that the team we were playing was very weak. I could tell that we were going to have to implement some measures to KEEP from scoring too many goals. And for once I didn’t keep score. I knew that we were winning – the score didn’t matter anymore.