Unlike Santa Claus (yes, I do know Christmas is over, but only just), who knows who’s naughty and who’s nice and even keeps a list, we aren’t supposed to keep a record of the wrongs that people do to us.
We all screw up. We all hurt other people whether intentionally or unintentionally. We can hurt people through our selfishness, and sometimes we can hurt people when we try to “help” them. We think we know what’s best for them and we tell them so, but all it does is put ill will between you. The other person doesn’t appreciate it.
I know this is a little off-topic, but I feel I need to say it. Growing up, I gave my opinion on everything to anyone. I knew I was right and you needed to know it too. I lost a lot of friends because of this. So, I’ve learned through personal experience, and through observing other people who enjoy giving their opinion, that you should rarely, if ever, give your opinion unless asked. The only time you should give it without being asked is if you think the other person is going to get hurt by continuing on their current path. For example, your friend is a born-again believer but he or she is falling in love with a nonbeliever. Because you are friends, and because it is in God’s Word, I believe the right thing to do is to lovingly tell them that they are heading into danger. But if it isn’t something serious, or biblical, keep your opinions to yourself unless asked.
Sin is not ended by multiplying words, but the prudent hold their tongues. (Proverbs 10:19)
Whoever derides their neighbor has no sense, but the one who has understanding holds their tongue. (Proverbs 11:12)
Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues. (Proverbs 17:28)
Keep No Record of Wrongs
It is so easy to keep a mental list of all the bad things people have done to us: former friends, ex-spouses, current or previous bosses and coworkers, even family members. But the question becomes, why? Why should we keep this list? What is the purpose? What is the point?
Many times we think that if we let it go, if we forgive, then we’re condoning what that person did. In other words, we’re saying that it’s okay that the person hurt us or treated us badly. But that isn’t what forgiveness is about. When we forgive others, we are releasing joy and peace into our own lives. I’ve heard it said that when you harbor unforgiveness, it’s like drinking poison and hoping the other person will die.
But maybe you don’t feel like you’re harboring unforgiveness. Maybe you’re just remembering what your spouse has done wrong over the years. I mean, you have to keep track right? How else will they change? Or, what will you have to throw at them during a fight? First, you will never make another person change. Only God can change people. The best thing you can do for them is to pray and love them as they are. And maybe focus on letting God change you instead. Second, you should never, ever throw past mistakes at your spouse (or anyone else for that matter) during a fight. It isn’t fair. What’s done is done. Leave it be. Let it rest. Let it go.
Think of it this way: if you are having a disagreement with your spouse and you throw something they did in the past in their face, not only are you hurting your spouse, but you are giving them an opening to throw out the bad things you’ve done. Because guess what? You’ve done bad stuff too. You’ve hurt your spouse; you’ve been selfish; you aren’t perfect. You can stand to change too. Not only so, but if you start bringing up past mistakes, that means that you never actually forgave him or her. And what does the Bible say about unforgiveness?
But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. (Matthew 6:15)
21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”
22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times….
32 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34 In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.
35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.” (Matthew 18:21-22, 32-35)
God is very serious about us harboring unforgiveness in our hearts. Although Justin and I rarely fight, when we do argue or disagree, we are both pretty careful not to bring up any past mistakes. I’m not saying it will never happen, but we do strive to keep that out of our speech and memory. Justin and I have both done and said things we regret (mostly me) but we have to forgive one another and move forward and only deal with the current situation.
God Forgives Us
It’s important to remember that God has forgiven us for far more than we could ever need to forgive others. And He did so without us even asking for forgiveness. He forgave us when we were still in our sins.
Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots. (Luke 23:34)
Jesus even forgave His tormentors while He was on the cross. Honestly, what right do we have to hold on to anger, bitterness, a grudge, past wrongs, when God Himself doesn’t hold onto our sins against Him? In fact, He casts them as far as the east is from the west.
As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us. (Psalm 103:12)
Can we honestly say that we deserve to harbor unforgiveness, that we need to keep a record of wrongs when God Himself doesn’t do so? Are we better than God?
If we truly want to love others as God loves us, we have to learn to let go of everything that’s been done to us. Give it to Jesus. Now, I do understand that sometimes there are things that are just too painful to deal with on your own. That’s okay because you aren’t alone! Go to the cross! Maybe get some Christian counseling if you need it. But you do have to let it go and forgive that person, no matter what they’ve done.
I could name countless people who have been through severe pain and trauma but had to forgive the person who did it to them. Joyce Meyer is one. She was sexually abused by her father, not protected by her mother – but she not only forgave them later in life, she actually took care of them until they passed. Renee Napier forgave the man who killed her daughter through drunk driving. After years of harboring unforgiveness, Frank and Elizabeth Morris finally forgave the man who killed their son too. These are just a few of the stories of unforgiveness and if you did a Google search I can guarantee you’d find even more.
I understand that forgiveness can be hard. There are people who have hurt me in the past, and I know that I’ve hurt people too. I pray that they’ve forgiven me, but I know I’ve forgiven everyone from my past. I can honestly say I don’t harbor any anger, bitterness, or ill-will to anyone. Can you say the same? Ask God to reveal any unforgiveness in your heart and then let Him help you to let it go and forgive.
Don’t keep a record of wrongs. It isn’t worth it and it will never accomplish what you hope and think it will.
I love you guys and I’d love to hear from you! Post in the comment section or send me an email through the contact form on the site. Have an awesome day and go out there loving people to Jesus!