[1 Corinthians 13:3-5]
“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.”
TRUTH TO BELIEVE:
He had no special beauty or form to make us notice him;
there was nothing in his appearance to make us desire him.
He was hated and rejected by people.
He had much pain and suffering.
People would not even look at him.
He was hated, and we didn’t even notice him.
But he took our suffering on him
and felt our pain for us.
We saw his suffering
and thought God was punishing him.
But he was wounded for the wrong we did;
he was crushed for the evil we did.
The punishment, which made us well, was given to him,
and we are healed because of his wounds.
He was beaten down and punished,
but he didn’t say a word.
He was buried with wicked men,
and he died with the rich.
He had done nothing wrong,
and he had never lied. Isaiah 53:1-5, 7, 9 NCV
Love keeps no record of wrongs… but I certainly do.
I’ve been there. I’ve been hurt by another person deeply and have wanted to hold onto that anger and bitterness. At times I’ve wanted to release it, but always seem to head back into my wounded corner. We aren’t called to forgive someone because God enjoys seeing us miserable. On the contrary, He knows that holding that kind of bitterness in our heart will only hurt us and deny HIS power! Anne Lamott puts it this way: “Not forgiving is like drinking rat poison and then waiting for the other person to die.”
God sees you right where you are. He has not looked away from the bullying or wrongs that you’ve experienced. He longs to see you find healing and comfort through forgiveness.
HOPE TO CLAIM:
“Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, ‘The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.’ The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him…” Lamentations 3:22-25, NIV
Can we all shout “Amen” to that? His compassion for our wrongs is new every single morning. We have been forgiven much, so now we are called to forgive much. Wrongs are not a part of love because love works to make things right. Love looks forward rather than backward. Love is not consumed by grudges. Love focuses on the Example, rather than our failures. There is no scoreboard. We have all failed miserably and yet been given the Crown of Life.
CHALLENGE TO EMBRACE:
“Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else. Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:12-18, NIV
Pray this prayer and ask that God would keep you from allowing past wrongs to dominate your heart:
Lord, give us discernment to recognize bitterness in our lives. Help us to overcome this harshness with a heart of forgiveness, seeing your presence in every person. We cannot do this of our own strength. Help us to release and forgive. Teach us to love as you love. Amen.
“Relationships don’t thrive because the guilty are punished but because the innocent are merciful.” Max Lucado
Love is not easily angered.
Advent Resource: God Came Near: Chronicles of the Christ by Max Lucado. A beautiful book that paints a unique picture of the humility and humanity of the Incarnation.