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I Corinthians 13 Part 11: Love Does not Take into Account a Wrong Suffered
1 Corinthians 13:5d; Proverbs 19:11. Throw out your ledger books of resentments and seek to forgive.
“Love.. does not take into account a wrong suffered,”
1 Corinthians 13:5d NASB1995
How many of us are transgression accountants? Somebody insults you or betrays your trust or is just plain troublesome and you mark it in your mental ledger against that person. Just like Ebenezer Scrooge hunched over his desk on Christmas Eve counting the pennies and muttering “Bah, humbug”, you build up little resentments over these deficits in your relationships that are caused by others committing wrongs against you; those wrongs can be perceived or real, they can be trivial or serious. You then contemplate your revenge or how you will “get even” for those wrongs.
Let’s do some word research for this vital precept. The Greek word Logizomai is used for account, according to the Blue Letter Bible. It has several definitions and is used in a secular manner in Greek to describe accounting and financial practices:
to reckon, count, compute, calculate, count over
to take into account, to make an account of
metaph. to pass to one's account, to impute
a thing is reckoned as or to be something, i.e. as availing for or equivalent to something, as having the like force and weight
to number among, reckon with
to reckon or account
to reckon inward, count up or weigh the reasons, to deliberate
by reckoning up all the reasons, to gather or infer
to consider, take into account, weigh, meditate on
to suppose, deem, judge
to determine, purpose, decide
Now looking at “wrong suffered”, the Greek word is kakos and it is defined as follows:
of a bad nature
not such as it ought to be
of a mode of thinking, feeling, acting
base, wrong, wicked
troublesome, injurious, pernicious, destructive, baneful
Building up a lifetime of negative balances in your mental ledgers for other people is ultimately destructive. I have done this in my life for family members, friends and coworkers and suffered anxiety, depression, anger and guilt and even felt physically ill. I have grown tired of seeing the same “movie” in my head replaying that “wrong” that was suffered and contemplating my revenge like the worst of the emotional and honor-obsessed Klingons from Star Trek. A life given to our Savior means that forgiveness is crucial to our well-being and our sanctification. I found a very sad story on Precept Austin about how minor offenses and material things can interfere with love and forgiveness:
HOW MANY BERRY SPOONS DO YOU POSSESS? - "I'll never forgive him. I told him I would never forgive him." The attractive elderly lady spoke softly, but with resolve, to the night nurse. Her expression was troubled as she turned away, focusing her eyes on the drape closing in her nursing home bed. The conversation had traveled from the temporal to the eternal and now a deep hurt had surfaced.
She told of how her brother had approached her hospital bed, accusing her of taking more than her share of family heirlooms following their mother's death. He spoke of various items, ending with "the berry spoon." He said, "I want the berry spoon." For the 40 years since the parent's death he had hidden his feelings, and now they erupted. She was both hurt and angered by his accusation and vowed never to forgive him. "It's my spoon. It was given to me," she defended herself. "He's wrong and I won't forgive him."
A berry spoon. In the bed lay a woman given two months to live-60 days-and she would face eternity and never see her brother again in this life. Her mind and spirit were in anguish, and her only remaining family tie was broken over a spoon.
How many berry spoons are there in our lives? How many things, as insignificant as a spoon, in light of eternity, separate us from full communion with God? How much lack of forgiveness keeps us from fellowship with others?
I found this story to be so convicting. We discard others in our lives and stew in resentment over things that mean so little in the long term that become our “berry spoons”: Social media insults, political disagreements, family squabbles over estates or over other issues of “fairness”, or even sports team loyalties! Steve and I are desperately seeking reconciliation with a family member after he deeply insulted us over a year ago and we reacted with anger. We have asked, over and over and over again, for forgiveness for our reaction and told him we forgive him, but we get mostly silence (and the occasional new snarky insult). But we MUST forgive! We must walk two miles and turn the other cheek again and again. Is it worth it to your pride and soul to not reconcile with family because of something like a berry spoon or an insult?
Love is forgiveness. Love throws out the ledger book of offenses. If we suffered a serious offense - like a crime committed against you or a family member - forgiveness is not forgetting (your awareness will still be there), it may not result in reconciliation, it does not condone the behavior, it does not dismiss the offense as being minor (which makes the forgiveness even more profound), and it is not a pardon in the legal sense. But it does wonders to help you be reconciled with God and to move on. I found this marvelous story about French King Louis XII on Precept Austin looking at resources on forgiveness:
THE POWER OF THE CROSS - Before Louis XII became King of France he suffered great indignities and cruelties at the hand of his cousin Charles VIII. He was slandered, thrown into prison, kept in chains and [with a] constant fear of death.
When he succeeded his cousin to the throne, however, his close friends and advisers urged him to seek revenge for all these shameful atrocities. But Louis XII would not hear to any of the suggestions of these whisperers in his court. Instead they were amazed to see him preparing a list of all the names of men who had been guilty of crimes against himself. Behind each name they noticed he was placing a red cross.
His enemies, hearing of this list and the red cross placed behind each name by the king himself, were filled with dread alarm. They thought that the sign of a cross meant they were thereby sentenced to death on the gallows. One after the other they fled the court and their beloved country. But King Louis XII learning of their flight called for a special session of the court to explain his list of names and the little red crosses. "Be content, and do not fear," he said in a most cordial tone. "The cross which I drew by your names is not a sign of punishment, but a pledge of forgiveness and a seal for the sake of the crucified Savior, who upon His Cross forgave all His enemies, prayed for them, and blotted out the handwriting that was against them."
Louis XII indeed kept a ledger, but he used it for forgiveness of those who had persecuted him. Come to the Cross and receive forgiveness and, in turn, forgive others who have trespassed against you. Live out Proverbs 19:11:
“A man’s discretion makes him slow to anger, And it is his glory to overlook a transgression.”
Proverbs 19:11 NASB1995
My next devotional examines 1 Corinthians 13:6a Love Does not Rejoice in Unrighteousness but Rejoices with the Truth.
Heaven on Wheels Daily Prayer
Dear Lord - Please help me forgive rather than build up a ledger of resentments against others. Guide me every day to truly and accurately forgive the trespasses that have been done against me and to be reconciled with you and not carry grievances or seek revenge. In Jesus’ name I pray - Amen.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. lockman.org”