Today’s love study–love does not take into account a wrong suffered–is one I’d rather skip given that it’s one I struggle with quite a bit. Rarely a week or even a day goes by without the opportunity to be offended by what someone says or does to us. No only may you be offended, but it may come at the hands of someone who shows no remorse or acknowledgement of their deeds. Blessed is the person who can withstand these situations and move on. Unfortunately for me, that’s not my gifting (though, thankfully there is hope for improvement).
“Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” (I Corinthians 13:4-8 NASB)
What It Means to “Take Into Account”
As before, let’s start off with some definitions:
- to take into consideration
- to allow for
- to consider something to be an important factor in some decision
- to notice
- to include or pay attention to
What’s a Wrong
- An injurious, unfair, or unjust, act: action or conduct inflicting harm without due provocation or just cause
- A violation or invasion of the legal rights of another
- Something wrong, immoral, dishonest or unethical; especially”: principles, practices or conduct contrary to justice, goodness, equity or law
The Greatest Example
From a Christian perspective, it’s hard to justify taking into account a wrong suffered when we consider what Jesus–he who was sinless and without sin–endured on our behalf. If you watched the Passion of the Christ, you may recall this particularly brutal scene from the Passion of the Christ where Jesus is beaten to a pulp for doing absolutely nothing wrong. Despite the beating, he willingly hung on the cross, literally giving up his life while seeking forgiveness for his accusers. And yet, every day we may feel our wrongs suffered are worthy to be counted.
- The harsh tone from a friend
- The abandonment by a loved one
- The negative words spoken
- The failure to meet a need
- The lack of attention
If you believe this type of disregard for wrongs suffered is only something Jesus could do, let me introduce you to just a couple of contemporary examples–Nelson Mandela and Elie Wiesel.
Nelson Mandela – locked up in a small prison cell for 27 years to silence his anti-apartheid activities. After his release, not only did he serve the government that worked to lock him up, he was also a great proponent of peace and reconciliation.
Elie Wiesel – suffered years of torture, humiliation and the loss of his family while locked up in a Nazi concentration camp. He survived and went on to win a Nobel Peace Prize for his vigorous support of peace, atonement and human dignity. (I highly recommend his memoir, Night.)
Two totally different stories. Two horrific experiences. But still the same decision to let go and move on.
When Reason Fails
If these examples don’t move us, we should also know there are health implications to keeping track of wrongs suffered (also known as “baggage”). What starts off as unforgiveness begins to spur feelings of bitterness, anger, resent, hostility and vengeance which rabidly feed on each other, leading to health issues such as:
- Anxiety and stress
- High blood pressure
- Symptoms of depression
- Higher risk of alcohol and substance abuse
We often believe incorrectly that forgiving someone of a wrong will make us weak or let them off the hook, but quite the opposite is true. As the Mayo Clinic states, “forgiveness doesn’t mean that you deny the other person’s responsibility for hurting you, and it doesn’t minimize or justify the wrong. ”
Put it into action
As I mentioned, this is something I struggle with myself, so I don’t have a magic solution for you. However, here are a few things you can try to move away from counting wrongs suffered.
- Reflect daily on wrongs you’ve caused yourself and how grace and forgiveness has been extended to you
- Thoughtfully consider how the situation might have differed in you were in the other person’s shoes.
- Recognize that even though forgiveness may not mean reconciliation, the opposite response–unforgiveness–would be a strike against you.
- Commit your offenses to prayer and seek a Godly response.
- Recognize you don’t have the power to change someone else.
- Read about Jesus’ life to give you an idea of how you should respond.
- Choose to let go.