Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Love Is Forgiving When Wrong Is Done

the phrase which is the complement to "love rejoices when right is done" in my version of paul's characteristics of love in first corinthians 13 is "love is forgiving when wrong is done."  this part of the list must present some translation problems, since there are so many different renderings of it in the various bible translations, but my own interpretation of what it seems to me paul is intending is the most satisfactory to me at this point along the path.

in the new international translation, the phrase which is often translated as love "is not resentful" is instead translated as love "keeps no record of wrongs."  for me, that corresponds well to the idea of forgiving wrongs that are done.  in the lord's prayer, jesus suggests that we pray, "forgive us our debts [the wrongs that we do to others] as we forgive our debtors [those who have wronged us]."  it is too easy to be caught up in a life of blaming others and the circumstances of life for our own situation in life.  we often rationalize our own failures by shifting blame from ourselves to others or to the vagaries of life rather than taking responsibility for our own shortcomings.

when my wife and i were first married, we engaged in arguments where we tried to blame the other for being the cause of our disagreement.  we would recite a litany of petty annoyances to one another, accusing each other of being the cause of our inability to come to an agreement.  over time, we learned how destructive this "keeping a list of wrongs" was and came to understand that we could learn to love each other more deeply by having more forgiving natures, finally realizing that those little quirks that had at first been so annoying were now endearing to us.

in the same way, we are much happier when we accept that we are so alike in our failings and that to forgive the wrongs of others is to forgive ourselves.  even great wrongs become more understandable when our hearts our filled with a spirit of forgiveness, and we see that the suffering caused to others by great and small wrongs done to them is a counterpart to the suffering being felt by the person who commits the wrong.  to forgive a wrong is not to condone it or pretend that it is justified; we must still oppose wrong actions and injustices, but we can forgive them at the same time.

may we rejoice in what is right and forgive wrong actions.  may we see that in forgiving others we also forgive ourselves and move past our own wrong actions towards making amends for the wrongs we have done.  shalom.

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