Hi friends, Ann here!
With our coffees at the ready, how about we take a look at this challenging gem today in 1 Corinthians 13:
"Love keeps no record of wrongs"
(1 Corinthians 13:5, NIV)
It is a noble thing to not keep record of wrongs. But do any of you have an ‘extremely difficult person’ in your life? How easy is it, really, to not think about the many annoyances or offences? I’m smiling because I suspect we all have one or two such people. Honestly, with a difficult person it's near impossible not to ruminate a little. Or, a lot!
Today I thought I would share a story about a challenging relationship that I've had in my extended family. This is a relationship my husband watches quietly, and he sees me learning to love. Sometimes he even tells me I've done good. Now, at those moments I break into a big smile. Those are the moments he sees my faith and quite likes it.
This particular person in my family has historically rubbed me up the wrong way. And if I'm honest, often I've felt like thumping them. Grrr!!
In the midst of it, the Lord has told me:
“This is an intense battle for you. And it's a love battle. Your job is hit back with the opposite spirit: Love. You can do it!”
This family member and I, we're not together often. But when we are I have to get through it. The conversation is wounding, there’s a clear demonic influence, it comes out in his words and those words have, in past times, left me bruised black and blue.
The Lord extends his comfort to me but he also sees the opportunity for reward if I can get my response right. He says:
“RISE UP daughter, swing your sword, and apply love! For love is your most powerful force, your vehement flame, and your weapon.”
When we have a difficult relationship, sometimes the Lord will show us what's really going on spiritually. In this case he showed me that this relationship is a place where the enemy is using that person's tongue to try to derail me faith-wise. I must fight accordingly (not with the person themselves; 2 Corinthians 10:4); and much of that fight involves God's powerful force: Agape love.
There are many ways to swing the sword of love. After all, 1 Corinthians 13 has many verbs. For a start, blessing is powerful, so when I think of this person I bless them quickly before my mind can rehearse the negative experiences I've had with them (i.e., go over the record of wrongs):
“In Jesus’ name, I bless [name]’s mind; I bless his heart; I bless his finances; I bless his body with physical health; I bless his hands, and his work; I bless his friendships; I bless his marriage. And most of all I bless his relationship with you, Lord.”
However, that's not quite enough to heal the bruises in my heart. Even if I move in swift forgiveness, which I really do try to, it seems that some bruises are so raw that only Jesus can take them away. When a bruise comes to mind, then, I get on my knees and say, “Jesus, this bruise is here. Please heal it.”
Forgiveness doesn’t mean we forget and then let the person do more of the same. There is certainly a place for protecting ourselves from too much negative conversation; and God doesn’t want us to be a doormat. Still, with family we can’t help but sit at their table and we may have to endure darts. In those cases our job is to say quickly in our minds: “I do forgive you. And I’m not going to keep a record of wrongs.”
I love the recent words of a minister I heard speak. She said: "When it comes to others, I keep short accounts, short accounts." In other words, "I'll forgive instantly, bless quickly, and do my best to move on."
That said, we are a total work-in-progress, right? None of this is easy. At all. We know our weapons, but we need the strength of Jesus Christ. And so, equally, we give ourselves grace for all the ups and downs. Perhaps in time it can even become something of an adventure. Let's hope so.
Friends, do you have a difficult person or two in your life? How do you practice love?