Most often, when people have offended us, we keep a mental list of every wrong that has been done to us. Given the opportunity, we remind ourselves and our offenders about the offenses and use this list against them. Such a hateful attitude can easily turn into bitterness or even a feud. It can turn marriages cold or break them apart altogether. It can create a lifetime rift between families. Relationships can get really ugly when we always harbor hatred toward people.
We learn from 1 Corinthians 13:5 that love keeps no record of wrongs. The opposite of such love is to keep resentful memories of others and seek personal justice for the wrongdoings. Hebrews 12:14-15 tells us:
“Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:
Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled”
(Hebrews 12:14-15 KJV)
Bitterness does not just adversely affect others but also defiles the one who keeps this bitterness in his or her heart. It binds a person into a life of never-ending hatred. An unforgiving heart can hinder personal, spiritual, and relational growth. Forgiveness is very important if we live a life of true freedom. Forgiveness does not change or repair the hurt that was caused, but it allows healing to happen in any broken relationship. Keep in mind that keeping any record of wrongs causes our relationship with God and others to regress, while forgiveness lets relationships progress unhindered. Love does not keep a record of wrongs.
Above all, keeping a record of wrongs is a failure to see the grace of God dispensed to us freely and unconditionally despite our shortcomings. Remember that God forgives us regardless of how rebellious we are to him. We must also learn to forgive others according to God’s mercy and grace.
“ Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.
And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.”
(Colossians 3:13-14 KJV)
When we look at others with love, forgiveness becomes easier to release. And if we embrace the love of Christ for us and for others, we become proactive in living with forgiveness and reconciliation. We must learn to focus on love and not just always be concerned about our own hurts.
Our sins made Jesus choose to die on the cross for our forgiveness. It was not a quick death; rather, it was slow, torturous, and agonizing. He was betrayed, abandoned by His friends, shamed, beaten half to death, crowned with thorns, and made to walk carrying a heavy cross on His shoulders; then, His hurting and bloodied body was nailed on that cross. Despite all of that, He did not keep any record of wrongs but prayed to the Father and cried, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing (Luke 23:34).”
The payment for our sins is eternal death in hell, and all of us are in that impossible debt (Romans 6:23). Even though God knows all our sins, He chose to sacrifice His one and only Son so that we may be forgiven and the list of our impossible debt wiped out by the blood of Christ. We can love like Jesus did because He exemplified such love. It enables us to do the same to others; to forgive not just seven times but as much as needed (Matthew 18:21-22).
“He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.
For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him.
As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.”
(Psalm 103:10-12 KJV)
“ Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.”
(Acts 3:19 KJV)