Continuing the work of unpacking what Love is, this post will focus on a couple more characteristics. Between this post and the next one, I’m hoping to wrap it up.
The first is thing we’re looking at is the notion that love is not self-seeking. Here the idea is that to act in love means not seeking to further ones own profit or advantage. The easiest way for me to conceptualize this is simply that love isn’t “looking out for number 1”. All of us know someone whose mission in life is seemingly to make sure they always get ahead or come out on top. They insist things are even or fair, and they give to get. I again can see myself in this, where so much of our relationship (both dating and early marriage) was me trying to make sure I benefited. I would do nice things, fully expecting to have nice things done in return. I would go a little out of my way serve Shelley expecting that she would go farther out of her way to serve me.
Just like everything else we’ve seen about love so far, Paul again is stressing unselfishness.
Love keeps no record of being wronged. The King James version says, [love] thinketh no evil. The Greek words here are are logizomai and kakos. Logizomai means to keep record or account of, and also can be translated as to pass to one’s account, to impute. Additionally, kakos is the Greek word for wrong or evil. To be honest, the research on this one aggravated me. Some of the commentaries I read made me cringe. The reason is that some folks translate the meaning of this verse to be ‘forgive and forget’. I cannot, for the life of me, understand how someone can actually believe that we are to forgive and forget. One commentator even insinuated that not forgetting wrong’s committed against is sinning. To forgive is, supernaturally, a gift to ourselves to release us from a prison of bitterness and resentment. It is worshipful and God honoring. Without spending too much time on this rabbit trail, to suggest that we forget wrongs committed against us is to demand we do something beyond our control. I don’t know about you, but I can’t seem to will myself to forget something. I can try not to dwell on it, and I can do my best to not put myself in situations to be reminded of it, but I cannot force myself to forget.
Anyway, I think the gist here is three-fold. First, that love doesn’t keep a tick-mark tally of wrongs. It’s easy to keep score, but its also incredibly damaging.
Second, that when we love well, we don’t keep that tally in our back-pocket to use when we need to feel justified or exonerated. We don’t use those things as leverage to get our way, nor to rationalize our wrongs.
And finally, when we love well we don’t let our spouses wrongs become what defines them. None of us want to feel like we’re the sum total of our bad behaviors. When we love well, we guard against allowing ourselves to believe the worst about our spouse. No matter the wrongs committed, we’re still made in the image of God, infinitely valuable.
Here are a couple questions I’m challenged with:
1) What’s my motivation for keeping a tally of my wife’s wrongs? I’d like to say I don’t keep a tally, but the truth is I do.
2) When I act in self-seeking ways it is usually because I feel a sense of injustice. I think I’m getting the short end of the stick. What keeps me from simply talking to Shelley about it, rather than pulling some self-seeking stunt?
3) Why do I feel a sense of injustice when Shelley benefits in our relationship?