In 1 Corinthians 13, the Apostle Paul says that there is only one stat that ultimately matters in your walk with God - one thing that that truly tells the world who you are, and that is your love (or lack thereof). The real question is, how do I grow in love? What does love look like? What does love do, and what does it not do? What is love?
8. Love Doesn’t Keep Score
When Christy and I first moved into the house we live in now, some guy stole some of our out-going mail, opened it, copied down a bunch of personal information from our bills and then proceeded to steal my identity. This dude started opening lines of credit in my name in cities all over the country. He was buying tons and tons of stuff on credit cards with my name printed on them. Then, when he didn’t pay the bills, I started to get in trouble. I had creditors sending me bills for all kinds of bank accounts, credit cards and purchases I had nothing to do with. Friends, it has taken me the better part of four years to clear up the mess made by this guy who stole so much using my name. I have had to follow paper trails, file police reports and on and on to try to clear this mess up. One of the worst parts about it is that my credit is now in shambles. Before my identity was stolen, my credit score was fantastic. Now, on paper, I look like the worst person ever! I have this history I didn’t make that just follows me around. If I went to a store today to buy a new washer and dryer, I would have to charge it to my wife’s credit, or I wouldn’t be able to buy it. The things that guy did have been following me around for years!
Some of you know exactly what it feels like to have your past follow you around. At some point, you did something that really hurt someone in your life, and they simply won’t move past it. I don’t even have to tell you that this is not how love acts, because you know how terrible it feels to have that past wrong hanging over your head. It’s like being in bondage, because no matter what you do or say, they never get over it, which makes you feel like you will always be that person.
In 1 Corinthians 13:5, Paul says that love ‘keeps no record of wrongs.’ Literally, he says the word ‘not’ and then a Greek word that means to calculate or count and then he uses the Greek word that’s translated other places as evil. In other words, Paul is saying that love doesn’t calculate evil. So, if you’ve done something against someone and they know how to love, they don’t count it against you. Love doesn’t calculate evil.
When I was thinking about this, I asked myself, “Why is that kind of attitude so rare? Why do we keep score of people’s wrongs?” The answer has to do with power. You see, when someone hurts you, you are vulnerable. They did something that had the power to make you feel terrible, but now, by not forgiving them, you hold the power. Holding the grudge and not forgiving that person gives you an edge in the relationship. It gives you the right to just keep on punishing them over and over again for that wrong thing they did. You have an everlasting edge over them relationally and emotionally.
So the question is, why are we supposed to be different than that? Why are we supposed to be the kinds of people who let things go? Why are we supposed to forgive and stop keeping score? Well, that’s really simple: It’s the way God treated us. 1 John 4 says that God is love, so whatever Paul says about love, he is saying about God. Love doesn’t keep score of wrongs because God doesn’t do that. Psalm 103 says, “He does not treat us as our sins deserve.” We have all been a total wreck and God has forgiven us an unbelievable and insurmountable debt of wrong. He gives us a relationship with Him that we could never earn in a billion years, and Paul says at the end of Ephesians 4 that we are supposed to forgive one another just as in Christ God has forgiven us.
People are going to break your heart. People are going to harm your pride and embarrass you. People are going to ruin your day and they are going to be unfair and uncool. People are going to treat you in evil ways, but love doesn’t keep score. Love lets it go. (obviously that doesn’t mean that you should allow an abusive person the opportunity to take advantage of you again - some relationships must end, but forgiveness is still necessary if only for your own heart)
The One who saw all our wrong and evil has not counted it against us, which means that we have no right to calculate other’s wrongs. Love doesn’t keep score.