At this time there are approximately 7 Billion people on earth. That's 7,000,000,000. It's a lot. It's much more than most people would care to count. In fact, if you live to the age of 70, your heart will beat approximately 2.8 Billion times. So if you really want to count that high you'd better be counting faster than your heart will beat.
Currently, I've lived less than 1/2 of that. But I've discovered something that all people on this earth discover. Not everybody thinks the same way I do. Not everybody has the same convictions I do. If I broke it down to Christians only, there would still be countless numbers of people who have written or said something I disagree with. And on many, many occasions, I have become frustrated with them, sometimes to the point of anger.
When I listen to someone give a great message via podcast, and then I read a book or blog they write that seems to completely contradict what I heard in the message, I get frustrated. When a blog writer has an amazing post about loving others and then three days later writes a long verbal assault against someone who has different scriptural or political convictions...I get frustrated. And sadly, when I read/hear these kinds of things I myself have been greatly tempted to speak against them, because, well....they were wrong! It was obvious! (I justify to myself). And strangely, my thought of them being wrong somehow caused me personally to feel wronged by them.
However, over the past 4-6 weeks I've spent some time meditating on two scripture passages in particular. One is a short passage in the love chapter: 1 Corinthians 13. As Paul is defining what love looks like he slips something in I don't like very much. Something I've come to realize I've had a difficult time living out in my own life. He writes, love "keeps no record of wrongs."
People have wronged me. A few have wronged me deeply. And it's so, so easy for me to continue to hold it against them. But love keeps no record of wrongs.
The second passage is Matthew 6:14-15. Jesus says, "For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins." Ouch.
My meditation on these passages has led me to one ultimate conclusion: If Jesus is Love then 1 Cor. 13 is one of the best chapters to meditate on to figure out how to live like Jesus. Jesus keeps no records of wrongs. If I have wronged him and he is keeping no record of that, should I not be living in the same manner toward others? Others may cut me, wound me, spread lies about me, and in the end they may really be wrong. But as a follower of Jesus I am commanded to keep no record of wrongs. You are commanded the same.
In light of this, I would like to propose a challenge. Think of somebody who has wronged you. Maybe recently. Maybe years ago. Maybe it's somebody you've never even met. Nevertheless, take the opportunity to re-read 1 Corinthians 13 many times over, and as you do so, adapt it a little bit for your own situation.
"If I speak in the tongues of men or angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal."
Here, Paul focuses on the importance of speech. Am I truly speaking in love? Or am I only a resounding gong or clanging cymbal?
"Love is patient, love it kind."
God is patient toward me. God is kind toward me.
Am I patient toward *person who wronged me*? Am I kind toward *person who wronged me*? Do I speak kindly about *person who wronged me*?
"Love does not dishonor others..."
God does not dishonor me. Am I doing/saying/writing anything that dishonors *person who wronged me*?
Read all of 1 Corinthians 13 this way. Really reflect on what's written. Like me, I am certain others have wronged you deeply. But meditating on this passage may just help you to love them in ways you never thought possible. And you may just find you're able to truly forgive others who have done nothing truly deserving forgiveness.
1 Corinthians 13
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have 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 do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, u but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.