Characteristics of Love (Part 4) – Love Forgives And Forgets People’s Mistakes
Today I continue with the series on love…
Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails…(1 Corinthians 13: 4-8).
Love thinks no evil. The Greek word here is logizomai and means to take an inventory. It means to make a list in your mind of what someone does to harm or bother you or to remember when someone does you wrong. Agape keeps no record of wrongs. I think that the Amplified Bible of 1 Corinthians 13:5 sums up this characteristic of love best: Takes no account of the evil done to it: pays no attention to a suffered wrong.
This characteristic is perhaps one of the best gauges of whether or not we’re walking in love. We have left the love realm when we start holding others’ offences against them and start making lists in our minds of their offences against us.
I was ministering to a man many years ago who had problems in his marriage. He sat in my office and began to tell me how difficult it was for him to live with his wife. He began to mention a plethora of problems he had with her. I decided to sit back and let him talk for a bit. I was taken back by his next move. He stood up from his chair with a stack of computer paper in his hand; the kind that was joined and folded together. As he stood he said, Here is a list of each offence my wife has committed against me. As I examined the page after page of paper, I saw for each offence one line with a date, a time, and the nature of the offence. His action to indict his wife of all these “crimes” against him proved his own guilt of self-centeredness! This is a great example of the opposite of what we should do to others. Instead of remembering his wife’s offences, he should have made a decision to take no account of them, and to treat his wife as if she had never done wrong.
The flesh loves to brood over past offences. But love will move us away from the past, and will lead us to forget what others have done to harm us, and will urge us to treat them as though they had never harmed us in any way.
Many years ago while attending Bible school; I worked for a large grocery chain that was unionized. The winter of my first year there, a section of the labor force in the grocery chain decided to go on a strike to protest their benefits package. I was in charge of the night crew at the store, and decided to cross the picket line and go to work in spite of the opposition of union employees. One of the men who worked in the area that called the strike was holding up a sign in the picket line and challenged me as I went to work, calling me all sorts of names. I just smiled at him each day as I crossed the line and went to work.
When the strike was over, this man that had made the harsh comments to me came to the front door of the store the first morning back from the strike and knocked so I could open it and let him in for work that day. When he saw me open the door and heard me greet him with “good morning,” he acted as though I was the invisible man, and walked past me without speaking. Later, before I left work, I saw him in a circle of people talking and walked up to the group and briefly entered the conversation. I made a comment to this man, and on purpose he acted as though I had said nothing and began abruptly talking to another person in the circle of people. For weeks thereafter, I was invisible to him. He never acknowledged my presence or spoke to me. He intended to ignore me to rub in the fact that I crossed the picket line.
I remembered the first day he acted this way that I was to walk in love and treat people as though they had never wronged me; that I was to take no account of the evil done to me; that I was to pay no attention to a suffered wrong. I decided to see what the love of God would do in this situation. I remembered that 1 Peter 4:8 (Amplified) says that love forgives and disregards the offenses of others.
I greeted him each morning for weeks with a hearty “good morning” as I called him by name. I spoke each time I saw him in the store. And I said not one word to anyone else about how he was treating me. He continued his invisible man treatment towards me for many weeks.
One day weeks later, I opened the door for him expecting the same cold shoulder I had received in the past. But this time, He greeted me with a “good morning Mitch,” and a hearty handshake. And thereafter, he was warm and pleasant again, and conversed freely with me and others. I never mentioned the incident, and I did not bring it up to him. Love had won!
As a young man in my early twenties, this incident taught me an invaluable lesson as to the power of agape love. Love never fails! We do have the ability to love the unlovely and the cantankerous!
You may be involved in a difficult home relationship or a troubled relationship at work. It may be a relationship with a family member or neighbor that has become testy. Be the person that chooses to walk in love; choosing not to take account of the wrongs committed against you. Treat the offending party as though they had done no wrong. Treat them the way you want to be treated yourself. Act in love towards them. Ignore the emotions of revenge or ill-will. Focus on loving with this supernatural agape that God has placed in your spirit. Meditate on 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 until it oozes out of you in words, tones, thought, motives, and actions.