A couple was having some marital problems and sought counseling. After interviewing both together the Counselor separated them to discuss the issues individually.
When alone with the husband he asked, “What do you feel is the biggest problem in your marriage?”
“Well, every time we get into an argument,” the husband responded, “my wife gets historical.”
“I think you mean hysterical,” corrected the Counselor.
“No,” the man replied. “Historical. She keeps bringing up the past.”
Dealing with past problems, injuries, and slights is a huge challenge in all relationships, but especially so in families and among married couples.
The Bible offers some simple, yet profound advice in this regard. In the famous love chapter, I Corinthians 13, the apostle Paul writes in verse 5, love “does not keep a record of wrongs.” Other versions render this phrase, love “does not take into account a wrong suffered.”
William Barclay translates this Greek word, “Love does not store up the memory of any wrong it has received.” He says that logizesthai is “an accountant’s word. It is the word used for entering up an item in a ledger so that it will not be forgotten.” Barclay correctly observes “that is precisely what so many people do. One of the great arts in life is to learn what to forget.”
Too many are like the people in Polynesia. It is said by one writer that “where the natives spend much of their time in fighting and feasting, it is customary for each man to keep some reminders of his hatred. Articles are suspended from the roofs of their huts to keep alive the memory of their wrongs—real or imaginary.”
While most of us may not go that extreme, do we keep a mental record of wrongs? Do we brood over the injustices inflicted upon us by others? Do we nurse our grudges to keep them alive? Do we emotionally foster feelings of bitterness? Anger? And resentment?
The Bible commands us to “get rid of all bitterness, rage, and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.” These negative attitudes and actions should then be replaced with positive feelings and behaviors. “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Eph. 4:31-32).
You will never restore any ruptured relationship as long as you “keep a record” of the other person’s wrongs, whether real or imagined. The Bible teaches that we should each admit our sins, confess them, repent of them, ask forgiveness, and seeks to be like Jesus (1 Jn. 1:7-10; Jas. 5:16, Lk. 13:3; 1 Pet. 2:21-23). This means not to retaliate when wronged. Not to return insults when we’re demeaned. And not to threaten those who are unkind, uncaring, or unresponsive to our need.
In the words of the author Albert Cliffe we can overcome the desire to keep a record of wrongs when we “Let Go and Let God.”
Not everyone perceives things in the same way. Personality, background and personal experiences all contribute to our interpretation of other’s actions. Too often we engage in judging the motives of others that exacerbates our hurt feelings. Misconception, misunderstanding, and miscommunication often contribute to a rift in our relationships and result in a long-standing feud.
If you’re guilty of keeping a record of wrongs, in the words of Dr. Phil what payoff are you receiving for your efforts? And how’s that working for you?
Believing and obeying God’s command, “keep no record of wrongs” will not only improve your relationships but provide a new found inner peace and tranquility of mind, heart, and soul.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman