Love keeps no record of wrongs
Love keeps no record of wrongs. (1 Corinthians 13:5) It is impossible to love somebody and think well of them and at the same time hold the bad things they may have done in the past against them like a register of unpaid debts.
Whenever you think about that person you remember this incident and that incident, and Satan will certainly enjoy tormenting you by reminding you about these incidents in great detail. You know that God wants you to forgive your debtors, and you want your transgressions to be forgiven, but you can’t do this if you hold things against others, and neither can God forgive you and cast your sins into the depths of the sea, because you keep a record of past wrongs and keep digging up the past!
There is a distinction between remembering events from the past and holding things against people. When someone has been traumatized through abuse or violence, painful memories can last for years, but to be able to forgive is part of the healing process, and does not contradict the need for people to accept responsibility and face the consequences of their crimes.
More commonly, people keep a record of one anothers’ wrongs because their pride has been offended, or their property damaged, and they want revenge or to see the other person humiliated in some way, even when what happened was done in ignorance or accidentally. This is far away from God’s love and the excitement and joy there is in heaven when a sinner repents, and never wants to sin again. Jesus could say on the cross: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” Luke 23: 34.
Joseph did not become bitter – quite the opposite
Those who have bitter thoughts are never happy, because their thoughts are not God’s thoughts, and He cannot bless them. They do not believe in God’s love and wisdom, like Joseph in Genesis 50: 19-21 when his brothers were afraid that he would take revenge on them for what they had done to him years before.
Joseph knew in his heart, even before the Law, that vengeance belonged to God. God’s children leave that to their Father. Joseph said “As for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.” Genesis 50:20. Those who keep their own hearts pure in the face of all the evil they may experience from other people, and forgive as Jesus forgave, see and experience the goodness of God, and are able to overcome evil with good. “And he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.” Genesis 50:21.
Love each other as Christ loves us
The love we have seen in Jesus Christ who died for us has led us to repentance over our hardness, selfishness and pride, so that we can also be along in the ministry of reconciliation—not reckoning people’s trespasses to them, not keeping a record of wrongs and constantly going through this record in our mind—but showing people how blessed it is to love one another as Christ loved us (2 Corinthians 5:19-20; 1 John 4:7-8). What a blessing it is to be saved oneself from bitterness and hatred, and receive mercy and grace from God to enter His kingdom of righteousness, peace and joy!
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You might also be interested in our theme page about Overcoming sin.