TEXT: 1 Corinthians 13:5
“..It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” (NIV)
In the middle of that list of what love is, Paul says that ‘Love – keeps no record of wrongs’ (v5). In other words what he is saying is that, as well as being patient, and kind and a whole host of other things – love is also forgetful! – “Love – keeps no record of wrongs” Love is forgetful!
Now we all know that forgetfulness is generally something we all try to avoid. Forgetfulness is something we tend to consider as a ‘curse of old age’.
Illustration: The forgetful couple
Did you hear about the married couple in their 80’s who were having problems remembering things, so they decided to the go the doctor for a checkup. The doctor tells them that they are physically okay, but they might want to start writing things down to help them remember.
Later that night, while watching TV, the old man gets up from his chair. His wife asks, “Where are you going?” “To the kitchen for a drink,” he replies. She asks, “Will you get me piece of cake?” The husband says, “Sure.” She gently reminds him, “Don’t you think you should write it down so you don’t forget it?” He says, “No, I can remember that!”
Then the woman says, “Well, I’d like some strawberries on top. You’d better write it down because I know you’ll forget it.” The man replies, “I can remember that! You want some cake with strawberries.”
She adds, “I’d also like whipped cream on top. Now I’m certain you’re gonna forget that, so you’d better write it down ok.” Irritated, he says, “I don’t need to write it down woman! I can remember that! Cake with strawberries! And whipped cream!” He then grumbles into the kitchen.
After about 30 minutes the old man returns from the kitchen and hands his wife a plate of bacon and eggs.
She stares at the plate for a moment and says, “Where’s my toast?”
Illustration: I am not forgetful
Three ladies were discussing the travails of getting older. One said, “Sometimes I catch myself with a jar of mayonnaise in my hand, while standing in front of the fridge, and I can’t remember whether I need to put it away, or start making a sandwich.”
The second lady chimed in with, “Yes, sometimes I find myself on the landing of the stairs and can’t remember whether I was on my way up or on my way down.”
The third one responded, ” Well, I’m glad I don’t have that problem. Knock on wood,” as she rapped her knuckles on the table, and then said, “That must be the door, I’ll get it!”
Oh the curse of forgetfulness. Of course, it isn’t just the older generation that tends to suffer with forgetfulness – we can all be guilty of it and forgetfulness isn’t something that is usually thought of as a positive trait in someone’s character.
Have you ever said to someone you would ring them, and didn’t? Have you ever said to someone ‘don’t worry, I’ll do that, I’ll take care of it, I’ll make sure it happens’ – and didn’t. Let’s face it we are all guilty of operating on the level of ‘out of sight, out of mind’. We may have all the good intentions, we may have all the right motives, we may even have the desire – but they just don’t happen! And out comes the excuse, “I forgot.” And in our humanness we have forgotten to ‘do things’ and ‘say things’ more times than we care to remember.
Sometimes when we forget it causes pain to someone. Sometimes when we forget it creates mistrust between us and someone else. Sometimes when we forget it causes other people to doubt our honesty, to doubt our integrity, to doubt our trustworthiness. And they will stop relying on us to meet a need, to meet their need.
And that is why often we think of forgetfulness as a weakness, as a problem. And more often than not that is true. But THERE IS A TIME WHEN FORGETFULNESS BECOMES AN ABSOLUTE NECESSITY. Paul says that ‘Love – keeps no record of wrongs’ He says that love is forgetful.
That’s the challenge of the Christian faith. That’s the challenge of the type of love that Jesus Christ calls us to have for one another. Our challenge is to forgive and forget. We don’t keep records of wrongs. God does not keep that score in heaven and we’re not supposed to keep that score here. It’s the way of God and it’s the challenge for Christians like you and me.
But is it really possible? Is it possible to remember people without remembering their sin? Is it possible to remember people without remembering the wrongs that they have committed, against the world, against society, against you?
- What do you think of when I say the name Brutus? – He was the one who stabbed Caesar.
- What do you think of when I say the name Judas? – he was the one who betrayed Jesus.
- What do you think of when I say the name Pilate? – He was the one who washed his hands and said ‘I’m going to let you kill him – I want nothing to do with it’.
- What do you think of when I say the name Herod? – He killed all the babies trying to kill Jesus.
- What do you think of when I say the name Hitler, or Stalin, Idi Amin, Sadam Hussein or Robert Mugabe.
We remember people we always remember the mistakes that they made, the hurts that they caused. That’s the way we are. We keep those records. Not only do we keep them but we make sure that they are written with permanent ink – and in triplicate! It’s hard for us to forgive and forget. But love, true Christian love, keeps no record of wrongs. True Christian love is forgetful. Now it might not be easy – I’m not suggesting that it is for one moment – but it is possible.
Anyone ever seen the movie ’50 first dates’? It’s based upon a woman who forgets every morning what happened the day before. Each day is new without any regret, hurt or bitterness from the day before.
Sometimes I think God wants us as Christians to treat hurt like that. In fact that is exactly what the bible teaches, but we all know how difficult that is to implement. Ever heard someone say, “Oh I forgive you, but I’ll never forget.” We, as humans, are prone to forgetting good things and remembering bad things, especially with those who are closest to us. We always believe that the closest to us have the greatest capacity to hurt us. This passage clearly states an aspect of love that challenges us to not keep a record of wrongs. “But God, you don’t know what they did to me!” Yes he does and you have no excuse if you have genuinely been changed by His love.
So how do we develop a forgetful kind of love?
1. UNDERSTAND THAT TIME DOES NOT HEAL WOUNDS.
Someone once wrote this lyric, “They say that time heals all wounds, but I beg to differ.” Such a true statement because we all know that many years could go by without some wounds being really healed. So how do we sort this out?
A fact must be understood that ONLY GOD CAN HEAL ALL WOUNDS. Whether emotional, psychological, or physical, only God can heal you of all those hurts. You might tell me, “What about counseling, Pastor?” Counseling is a tool that we have which helps people work with God to bring healing to past hurts that have been ignored or undealt with. But you and I must realize that only the love of God can transform us, He alone can turn our bitterness into understanding and love.
Illustration: (It was love not time that made us forgive our father…)
If you’re here this morning and you have made the choice that you are not going to forgive or get past something until you let some time go by then I challenge you with this word of warning from Matthew 6:14-15 “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
God doesn’t ask us to forgive when we’re ready, He would say we must because of what we’ve been forgiven.
Only God can help you with that record of wrongs, not time. God wants to do that work in you this morning and know Him as Paul says in 2 Corinthians 1: 3-4, “…the God of all comfort;” He wants to help you love others, but it starts here.
2. PRACTICE THE PRINCIPLE OF FORGIVENESS.
If we are to ever implement this facet of love it begins with forgiveness and our ability to do so without regard for personal pain.
Paul, in his letter to the church in Ephesus says, “In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.”
This wisdom is something we all know, but we don’t always put it into practice. Imagine what Jesus’ reaction to Peter could have been when he saw him after the crucifixion. He abandoned him and betrayed him. Imagine Jesus walks into the room and is excited to see everyone and then he sees Peter. With a glare he tells Peter that he’s forgiven him, but he hasn’t forgotten. One thing that we see in the life of Jesus is an ability to just let things go. Regardless of what happened to him, no matter how hurtful or painful, he was able to show a love that is so uncharacteristic. Not only was he able to forgive, but he did it immediately and never brought it up again.
When you find yourself in an argument with someone you’ve known for a long time, do you bring of past mistakes? If so, you’re not being loving. Love keeps no record of wrong. The Bible tells us love covers a multitude of sins. It is loving to overlook a past sin.
Switchfoot, a Chrisitian band, has a song lyric that applies here. It goes something like this: “I dare you to move like today never happened”. Just imagine living like yesterday didn’t happened. How might our behavior be different?
Self-check: Am I holding anything against another? Am I storing up everyone’s wrongs to bring up in the next argument?
A husband asked his wife, “Why are you always reminding me of my past mistakes? You told me you would forgive and forget.” She answered, “Well, I don’t want you to forget that I have forgiven and forgotten.”
In love we forgive and in humility we forget because this is what God has demonstrated to us through salvation. Psalm 103:12 says, “…as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”
Let me share with you a practical application or practice about forgiveness…
There are three (3) steps of forgiveness:
- RELINQUISH YOUR RIGHT TO GET EVEN.
Paul wrote in Romans “Never avenge yourselves. Leave that to God, for he has said that he will repay those who deserve it.” (12:19 LB) You don’t hurt the other person with your resentment, you only hurt yourself.
Three reasons to forgive others:
—God has forgiven you.
—Bitterness makes you miserable.
—You are going to need more forgiveness in the future. The Lord’s prayer says: “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.”
- RESPOND TO EVIL WITH GOOD.
“Do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” – Jesus (Luke 6:27-28). “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:21)
- REPEAT THE PROCESS OVER & OVER AGAIN.
Remember the discussion Jesus had with Peter? “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times? No not seven times, Jesus replied, but seventy times seven.”
Remember the Lord forgave US so we must forgive others. Don’t try to forgive on your own power. You see our human tendency is to make a list…We like lists. That’s all Peter was doing, making a list.
Make your list. List the number of times God has forgiven you.
- Ever spoken an angry word with the intent to hurt? By the standard of heaven, you are guilty of verbal assault.
- Ever been silent when Jesus was mocked? Don’t we call that treason?
- Ever gone to church to be seen rather than to see Him? Hypocrite.
- Ever broken a promise to God? Deceit.
- Ever been dishonest with the stewardship of the things God has entrusted to you? That’s cheating.
A worthy list. Don’t we deserve to be punished? Yet here we are. I don’t see lashes on our backs, or shackles on our feet. Apparently, God has not kept a list of our wrongs.
I HAVE BEEN IMMERSED IN GRACE, SUBMERGED IN MERCY, I MUST SHARE IT!
3. LEARN TO LET GO.
The challenge for us this morning is to begin going through our hurts and bitterness. “Even though you may want to move forward in your life, you may have one foot on the brakes.” In order to be free, we must learn how to let go and to release the hurt. Refuse to entertain your past and even present pain. The energy it takes to hang onto the past is holding you back from a new life.
People who struggle with this often have to go through a process, once challenged by God’s love, where they go through their past and sort through lots of old hurt and bitterness. This means opening the door to your ammunition shed and pulling out every bullet and bomb. (Talikuran mo na lahat ng mga pwede mong isumbat, sabihin, ipagduldulan…). The only way to disarm them is to give them to God and, in obedience, forgive those represented. As you let go, you free yourself to make forward movements in God’s love.
This will be a love experience for you as you make God’s love enough to deal with your past and hurts. Now as you let go of these things you have to grab onto something else like promises of a future! ‘“For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” Jeremiah 29:11 Why hold on to that grudge or hurt, wherein God has a plan for your life? Remember that there’s always something best that God has in store for you and me…never ever forget that.
“Jesus taught us how to forgive out of love, how to forget out of humility. So let us examine our hearts and see if there is any unforgiven hurt, any unforgotten bitterness!” – Mother Teresa
There is so much wisdom in this statement and I believe that God is searching hearts this morning by His spirit. There are those here this morning that have years of hurt, unforgiveness and bitterness. You want to step into God’s future for your life, but this will always keep you back. As God makes you more like Jesus and challenges you to love like He does, then this is an inevitable step. The beautiful thing is that it’s not done through will power, but through His power. God will enable you to do this. He will heal your wounds, give you a forgiving heart and help you sort through the past so that you can comfort others. “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” (Rom. 8:28) Only God can work all things for good, make miracles out of messes and hurts!
TRUE LOVE IS A FORGETFUL LOVE!