February 6, 2014 by Chris French
The ESV has Paul saying that love “is not irritable or resentful”. The Greek phrase that conveys this thought is actually three words, one of which is a verb that means, “to take inventory” as in a grocery store taking inventory. Picture the manager walking around the store tallying up how many sharpies he has. He needs an accurate count so he keeps a record of how many of each item he has. Paul says that love doesn’t do that.
If we love someone we don’t have a ledger book in our back pocket with descriptions of what they’ve done to hurt us in the past. If you’ve been married for more than a week you may not carry a literal book full of the wrongs done to you by your spouse, but you’ve most likely got a list in your head. You may not even know you’ve got it yet, but the next time you get in an argument I bet you’ll pull it out. Usually these lists appear because you’ve noticed an
annoying trend in your spouse. It’s easy to overlook a one time mistake they make, but if you notice that it’s something they do on a regular basis it makes it on your list. That way next time you get in an argument you can pull out that list and say, “Yeah, well you always…” and then you’ll have the upper hand! The question is why do you want the upper hand? What does that get you? I really beat down my spouse! I proved them wrong! Now they can’t talk to me about my deficiencies because I’ve pointed out some of theirs.
Guys, that sounds like me protecting myself. But men we are called to protect our wives at the detriment of ourselves if need be (Ephesians 5.25)! You may be thinking, “I’d die for her!” Just because you might step in front of a bullet for your wife doesn’t mean you love her as the Bible defines love. Wives this doesn’t mean you’re off the hook. Women are just as bad about keeping a list of wrongs as men are, but guys I think this means that it’s our responsibility to lead our family out of this list keeping way of “love”. It’s my responsibility to throw my list away first. Gentlemen, without that list you’re not going to have any protection, but that’s okay because you, O man of God, are the protector! Together you and your wife can deal with whatever issue has come up. Maybe her list of wrongs that you’ve committed are valid. That’s going to hurt, but own it, ask her forgiveness and fix the problems. Love isn’t resentful and men it’s our job to make sure our family meets the definition of true love!
I’m guessing by now you’ve realized that this record we keep of how our spouses have hurt us has got to go out the window, both for husbands and wives. It’s holding you back! It’s keeping you from true love! So how do you get rid of this list? I try to focus on the positives. Like mine, your spouse has a ton of great characteristics! That’s why you married them in first place! Look for those things. Depending on how far into your list you are you might have to search for a while because you probably have attached negative stuff to each positive trait. You’re mentally separating yourself from them when you do this. You’re making them the villain. They’re the ones who are unreasonable. If you let this list grow long enough you’ll find yourself in divorce court! So depending on how long your list is you might have to look harder for the positive traits in your spouse than others, but they’re there. Search for them and think about them. Keep a tally of the right things they do. Keep a running total of all the positive traits they have. Throw away that list of hurts, but keep this list of positive things close to you.
This isn’t the only way to get rid of that list, of course. What did you do, or what are you doing, to stop keeping that record of wrongs?