Tearing Up the List
Love doesn’t keep score of the sins of others. (1 Corinthians 13:5, The Message)
Have you noticed how easy it is to "keep a list" of the wrongs that people have done to us? And even when we try to forget, that wonderful computer of ours (the brain) has a way of remembering what we want to forget (and an equal ability to forget what we want to remember!). But the Bible urges us to tear up those lists!
Of course, everything within us at times feels we have a right to "keep a list." And Peter felt he was being very spiritual when he was prepared to let the list get to seven offenses (seven being the "perfect" number in Judaism) before feeling he had a right to not tear the list up! But Jesus’ answer surprised him. "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times" (Matthew 18:22) – that is, an endless number of times; or, to put it another way, just don’t keep a list, Peter! For forgiveness is not something we can count; forgiveness is the very atmosphere of God’s kingdom. True forgiveness means tearing up the list and leaving things to God.
In fact, Jesus went further in this area than anyone ever before or since; for not only did He call us to unconditionally love and forgive our friends and to tear up the list of their sins and failings, He called us to do the same with our enemies! "You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven" (Matthew 5:43-45).
What about you? Do you have a mental list of where others have hurt, disappointed or wronged you? If you do, tear it up! Leave God to deal with the issue, and with them. He’ll do a far better job!
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord. (Romans 12:17-19)
© Copyright 2017 Martin Manser and Mike Beaumont