It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful (ESV)
It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. (NIV)
It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. (KJV)
[Love] does not act unbecomingly; itdoes not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, (NASB)
With small children, especially, it may be odd to consider how this works. While we probably would associate this description of love with forgiveness, we don’t necessarily need to delve into a discussion on what forgiveness is in order to study how love plays out in this situations.
It’s pretty straightforward — love keeps no records of wrongs. (Sounds a little scary to actually do this!) To express it positively and simply, love forgives readily and without any prerequisites.
In some Christian circles, forgiveness is misunderstood as pretending a person has never done wrong. But really, true forgiveness shows its radicalness by acknowledging that wrong has occurred, and then forgiving anyway. It’s not forgetting; it is choosing not to hold it against them.
It’s easy to so often see primarily the negative in our children. We subtly move toward framing our children’s behaviors in dogmatic terms, using words such as always, never, or is: “She always thinks she can get her own way.” “He never can get that right.” “She is a liar.”
When we begin to speak these words about our children or in front of our children, we begin to shape their identity in an unhealthy way.
Instead, in their wrongdoing, we need to point them (and ourselves) to Christ, and we need to see our children not only as deprived, but as image bearers.
It’s especially hard to do when the wrong has hurt us, when it’s stung, made us look bad, or embarrassed us. We don’t want to respond lovingly, because we want to take into account the wrong we suffered through. But when love considers how to respond, it doesn’t first take into account how we feel we’ve been wronged–that our kids made us look like bad parents or helped the observing world recognize our imperfections. Our parental might still need to address a wrong, but it addresses it detached from our embarrassment for making us look bad or our grief over having an prized possession damaged. (Or maybe we even examine our own motives and see the child has done no “sin,” but we perceived the wrong as sin due to our own wrong desires.)
There is a type of blindness in love — not gullible naivete that winks at wrongdoing or leaves the helpless unprotected from wrongdoers, but a consistent expectation of right, that assumes the best. When we keep records of our children’s bad behavior, we are creating in our own minds an expectation of their continuing in that way — doing more wrong. We are focusing on ourselves rather than the true issues. Love is blind to past failures, and hopeful about future success. Love is blind to our own initial reactions and takes a balanced approach in addressing concerns.
In acknowledging our children’s depravity — and our own, while we’re at it — we should strive to do so in love. There is, in some Christian circles, such a heavy emphasis upon depravity, that we’ve almost lost the need to love, love, love.
When we see this love for what it truly is, we recognize Christ’s love. How did Jesus respond to our depravity? With love. This is what he did when he died for us. He loved us, became our sacrifice, and completely wiped our record clean. When he looks at us, he doesn’t see a laundry list of sins — our bad attitude today, our angry words yesterday, and the gossipy email before that. He sees us as forgiven. He actually sees us as righteous.
This is the love that whispers grace and the Gospel into the lives our children. Radical grace, radical love. Love that comes about in our own hearts as fruit of our sanctification.
When we encounter grace, its radicalness should stop us in our tracks and make us genuinely wonder, “Should we keep sinning so that we might see more and more of this grace?” The answer will always be a resounding, “may it never be!” the emphatic μὴ γένοιτο. Yet, seeing the shocking nature grace should lead us to ask this question again and again. (Romans 6)