A study of God’s Love from 1 Corinthians #25 – Love Does Not Take Into Account a Wrong Suffered

13 Feb

Love does not think evil (logizetai to kakon): does not consider the wrong suffered; is not resentful; does not hold the evil done to oneself. Love suffers the evil done to it and forgets it.

Believers must not allow themselves to become easily angered, and they must not keep record of wrongs. Such people will remember every offense against them as though it were written in a book and tallied. These “wrongs” are not sins that need to be dealt with in the congregation (such as that described in chapter 5) but minor offenses or misunderstandings between believers. Those who keep record of these wrongs and personal injuries will harbor resentment against other believers. Love, however, makes allowances for people’s foibles and flaws and willingly forgets when wrongs were done. This frees all believers to grow and mature in Christ and to grow in their ability to serve and use their gifts. When mistakes are made, love overlooks them and allows believers to continue to serve with the gifts God has given them. God does not keep a record of believers’ wrongs (2 Corinthians 5:19).

Love does not store up the memory of any wrong it has received.  The word translated store up (logizeshthai) 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.  That is precisely what so many people do.  One of the great arts in life is to learn what to forget.  A writer tells how “in Polynesia, 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.”  In the same way many people nurse their wrath to keep it warm; they brood over their wrongs until it is impossible to forget them.  Christian love has learned the great lesson of forgetting.

Paul tells us that love “does not take into account a wrong suffered.” I like what Morris writes on this point: “Paul’s next point is that love does not, so to speak, go around with a little black book making a note of every evil thing. ‘Love keeps no score of wrongs,’ says Paul (the NEB translation). We find it hard to forget it when people offend us, often storing up such grievances.’”185 Some saints seem to have photographic memories when it comes to offenses against them. One little irritation brings to mind an entire file of previous offenses, carefully annotated and documented. This kind of mental bookkeeping186 only serves to fuel resentment and certainly does not facilitate true reconciliation.

This (take into account) is a bookkeeping term that means to calculate or reckon, as when figuring an entry in a ledger. The purpose of the entry is to make a permanent record that can be consulted whenever needed. In business that practice is necessary, but in personal matters it is not only unnecessary but harmful. Keeping track of things done against us is a sure way to unhappiness—our own and that of those on whom we keep records.

The same Greek word is used often in the New Testament to represent the pardoning act of God for those who trust in Jesus Christ. “Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will not take into account” (Rom. 4:8). “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them” (2 Cor. 5:19). Once sin is placed under the blood of Christ there is no more record of it. It is blotted out, “wiped away” (Acts 3:19). In God’s heavenly record the only entry after the names of His redeemed is “righteous,” because we are counted righteous in Christ. Christ’s righteousness is placed to our credit. No other record exists.

That is the sort of record love keeps of wrongs done against it. No wrong is ever recorded for later reference. Love forgives. Someone once suggested that love does not forgive and forget, but rather remembers and still forgives. Resentment is careful to keep books, which it reads and rereads, hoping for a chance to get even. Love keeps no books, because it has no place for resentment or grudges.

Chrysostom observed that a wrong done against love is like a spark that falls into the sea and is quenched. Love quenches wrongs rather than records them. It does not cultivate memories out of evils. If God so completely and permanently erases the record of our many sins against Him, how much more should we forgive and forget the much lesser wrongs done against us (cf. Matt. 18:21-35; Eph. 4:32)?

The Pelicano is the world’s most unwanted ship. Since 1986 she has been the hobo of the high seas. No one wants her. Sri Lanka doesn’t. Bermuda doesn’t. The Dominican Republic turned her away. So did the Netherlands, the Antilles, and Honduras.

The problem is not the boat. Though rusty and barnacled, the 466-foot freighter is seaworthy. The problem is not the ownership. The owners have kept the license current and taxes paid. The problem is not the crew. They may feel unwanted, but they aren’t inefficient.

Then what is the problem? What is the reason for years of rejections? Waved away in Sri Lanka. Turned away in Indonesia. Rejected in Haiti. Why is the Pelicano the most unwanted ship in the world?

Simple. She is full of trash. Fifteen thousand tons of trash. Orange peelings. Beer bottles. Newspapers. Half-eaten hot dogs. Trash. The trash of Philadelphia’s long summer of 1986. That’s when the municipal workers went on strike. That’s when the trash piled higher and higher. That’s when Georgia refused it and New Jersey declined it. No one wanted Philadelphia’s trash.

That’s when the Pelicano entered the picture. The owners thought they would turn a quick penny by transporting the rubbish. The trash was burned, and the ashes were dumped into the belly of the boat. But no one would take it. Initially it was too much. Eventually it was too old. Who wants potentially toxic trash? [1]1

The plight of the Pelicano is proof. Trash-filled ships find few friends. The plight of the Pelicano is also a parable. Trash-filled hearts don’t fare any better.

I wonder if you can relate to the Pelicano. Are you unwanted at the dock? Drifting farther from friends and family? If so, you might check your heart for garbage. Who wants to offer dock space to a smelly heart?

Life has a way of unloading her rubbish on our decks. Your husband works too much. Your wife gripes too much. Your boss expects too much. Your kids whine too much. The result? Trash. Load after load of anger. Guilt. Pessimism. Bitterness. Bigotry. Anxiety. Deceit. Impatience. It all piles up.

Trash affects us. It contaminates our relationships. It did Cain’s. He had anger in his mind before he had blood on his hands. And Martha? Martha was meddlesome in her attitude before she was quarrelsome with her tongue. And what about the Pharisees? They killed Christ in their hearts before they killed him on the cross.

Mark it down. Today’s thoughts are tomorrow’s actions.

Today’s jealousy is tomorrow’s temper tantrum.

Today’s bigotry is tomorrow’s hate crime.

Today’s anger is tomorrow’s abuse.

Today’s lust is tomorrow’s adultery.

Today’s greed is tomorrow’s embezzlement.

Today’s guilt is tomorrow’s fear.

Today’s thoughts are tomorrow’s actions. Could that be why Paul writes, “Love … keeps no record of wrongs” ( 1 Cor. 13:5 niv )? Let trash on board, and people are going to smell it. The troubles for the Pelicano began with the first shovelful. The crew should have turned it away at the gate. Life would have been easier for everyone on board if they had never allowed the trash to pile up.

Life will be better for you if you do the same.

Some folks don’t know we have an option. To listen to our vocabulary you’d think we are the victims of our thoughts. “Don’t talk to me,” we say. “I’m in a bad mood.” As if a mood were a place to which we were assigned (“I can’t call you. I’m in Bosnia.”) rather than an emotion we permit.

Or we say, “Don’t mess with her. She has a bad disposition.” Is a disposition something we “have”? Like a cold or the flu? Are we the victims of the emotional bacteria of the season? Or do we have a choice?

Paul says we do: “We capture every thought and make it give up and obey Christ” ( 2 Cor. 10:5 ).

Do you hear some battlefield jargon in that passage—“capture every thought,” “make it give up” and “obey Christ”? You get the impression that we are the soldiers and the thoughts are the enemies. Our assignment is to protect the boat and refuse entrance to trashy thoughts. The minute they appear on the dock we go into action. “This heart belongs to God,” we declare, “and you aren’t getting on board until you change your allegiance.”

Selfishness, step back! Envy, get lost! Find another boat, Anger! You aren’t allowed on this ship. Capturing thoughts is serious business.

It was for Jesus. Remember the thoughts that came his way courtesy of the mouth of Peter? Jesus had just prophesied his death, burial, and resurrection, but Peter couldn’t bear the thought of it. “Peter took Jesus aside and told him not to talk like that.… Jesus said to Peter, ‘Go away from me, Satan! You are not helping me! You don’t care about the things of God, but only about the things people think are important’” ( Matt. 16:22–23 ).

See the decisiveness of Jesus? A trashy thought comes his way. He is tempted to entertain it. A cross-less life would be nice. But what does he do? He stands at the gangplank of the dock and says, “Get away from me.” As if to say, “You are not allowed to enter my mind.”

What if you did that? What if you took every thought captive? What if you refused to let any trash enter your mind? What if you took the counsel of Solomon: “Be careful what you think, because your thoughts run your life” ( Prov. 4:23 ).


You are driving to work when the words of your coworker come to mind. He needled you about your performance. He second-guessed your efficiency. Why was he so hard on you? You begin to wonder. I didn’t deserve any of that. Who is he to criticize me? Besides, he has as much taste as a rice cake. Have you seen those shoes he wears?

At this point you need to make a choice. Am I going to keep a list of these wrongs? You can. Standing on the gangplank is Self-pity and her seven sisters. They want on board. Are you going to let them? If you do, you’ll be as smelly as the Pelicano by the time you reach your office.

Or you can do something else. You can take those thoughts captive. You can defy the culprit. Quote a verse if you have to: “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse” ( Rom. 12:14 niv ).

Another scene. Anger at your parents is keeping you awake. You want to sleep, but this afternoon’s phone call won’t let you. As always, all they did was criticize. No compliments. No applause. Just pick, pick, pick. Why aren’t you married? When are you coming home? Why don’t you have a good job like your cousin Homer at the bank? Grrrr. See that fellow at the bottom of the gangplank? The one wearing the dark robe? He’s a judge from the court of critical attitudes. Judge Mental. Let him on board, and the two of you can spend the night passing out guilty verdicts. You can alphabetize and codify all the parents’ mistakes. Are you going to let him on board? Do so at great risk, my friend. By morning you’ll be smelling like a landfill.

Remember, just because there is trash on the dock, that doesn’t mean there must be trash on your ship. You are not a victim of your thoughts. You have a vote. You have a voice. You can exercise thought prevention. You can also exercise thought permission.

How could you change the plight of the Pelicano ? Change her cargo. Load the decks with flowers instead of trash, presents instead of ash, and no one would turn the ship away. Change the cargo, and you change the ship.

By the same token, change the thoughts, and you change the person. If today’s thoughts are tomorrow’s actions, what happens when we fill our minds with thoughts of God’s love? Will standing beneath the downpour of his grace change the way we feel about others?

Paul says absolutely! It’s not enough to keep the bad stuff out. We’ve got to let the good stuff in. It’s not enough to keep no list of wrongs. We have to cultivate a list of blessings. The same verb Paul uses for keeps in the phrase “keeps no list of wrongs” is used for think in Philippians 4:8 : “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” ( rsv ). Thinking conveys the idea of pondering—studying and focusing, allowing what is viewed to have an impact on us.

Rather than store up the sour, store up the sweet.

You want to make a list? Then list his mercies. List the times God has forgiven you. Stand face to feet with the form of your crucified Savior and pray, “Jesus, if you can forgive me for hurting you, then I can forgive them for hurting me.” You didn’t deserve to be hurt by them. But neither did you deserve to be forgiven by him.

But I’m a decent person. I’ve never done anything to hurt Christ. Be careful now. That opinion can lead to trouble. Do you really think you haven’t done things that hurt Christ?

Have you ever been dishonest with his money? That’s cheating. Has your love for flesh or fame ever turned you away from him? That’s adultery. Ever spoken an angry word with the intent to hurt? In the corpus juris of heaven, you are guilty of assault.

Have you ever been silent while he was mocked? Don’t we call that treason? Ever gone to church to be seen rather than to see him? Hypocrite. Ever broken a promise you’ve made to God? Whoa. Deceit. That’s serious.

Need we go further? Only six questions, just two inches of copy, and look at you. Guilty of dishonesty, adultery, assault, treason, hypocrisy, and deceit. A list worthy of indictment. Don’t you deserve to be punished? And yet, here you are. Reading this book. Breathing. Still witnessing sunsets and hearing babies gurgle. Still watching the seasons change. There are no lashes on your back or hooks in your nose or shackles on your feet. Apparently God hasn’t kept a list of your wrongs. Apparently David knew what he was saying: “[God] has not punished us as our sins should be punished; he has not repaid us for the evil we have done” ( Ps. 103:10 ). And he meant it when he prayed, “ Lord , if you kept a record of our sins, who, O Lord, could ever survive?” ( Ps. 130:3 nlt ).

Listen. You have not been sprinkled with forgiveness. You have not been spattered with grace. You have not been dusted with kindness. You have been immersed in it. You are submerged in mercy. You are a minnow in the ocean of his mercy. Let it change you! See if God’s love doesn’t do for you what it did for the woman in Samaria.


Talk about a woman who could make a list. Number one, discrimination. She is a Samaritan, hated by Jews. Number two, gender bias. She is a female, condescended to by the men. Third, she is a divorcée, not once, not twice. Let’s see if we can count. Four? Five? Five marriages turned south, and now she’s sharing a bed with a guy who won’t give her a ring.

When I add this up, I envision a happy-hour stool sitter who lives with her mad at half boil. Husky voice, cigarette breath, and a dress cut low at the top and high at the bottom. Certainly not Samaria’s finest. Certainly not the woman you’d put in charge of the Ladies’ Bible class.

Which makes the fact that Jesus does just that all the more surprising. He doesn’t just put her in charge of the class; he puts her in charge of evangelizing the whole town. Before the day is over, the entire city hears about a man who claims to be God. “He told me everything I ever did” ( John 4:39 ), she tells them, leaving unsaid the obvious, “and he loved me anyway.”

A little rain can straighten a flower stem. A little love can change a life. Who knew the last time this woman had been entrusted with anything, much less the biggest news in history! In fact, flip to the left out of John 4 , and you’ll make this startling discovery. She is Jesus’ missionary! She precedes the more noted. The lineage of Peter and Paul, St. Patrick and St. Francis of Assisi can be traced back to a town trollop who was so overwhelmed by Christ that she had to speak.

Another Pelicano forever fumigated. Why?

Not just because of what Jesus did, though that was huge. But because she let him do it. She let him on board. She let him love her. She let him change her cargo. He found her full of trash and left her full of grace. She and Zacchaeus and the apostle Paul and the woman in Capernaum and millions of others invited him into the hold of their hearts.

She didn’t have to. They didn’t have to. And you don’t have to. You really don’t.

You can stick with your long lists and stinky cargo. And drift from port to port. But why would you? Let the Pelicano have the high seas. Your Captain has better plans for you. [2]

[1]1 Jerry Schwartz, “Where Does One Stash That Trash Ash?” San Antonio Express News, 3 September 2000, sec. 29A.

[2] Lucado, M. 2002. A love worth giving : Living in the overflow of God’s love. W Pub. Group: Nashville, Tenn.

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Posted by on February 13, 2023 in 1 Corinthians


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