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Forgiving Others



"[Love] does not take into account a wrong suffered" (1 Cor. 13:5).

If you love someone, you won’t keep a record of their offenses.

It is reported that when the Moravian missionaries first went to the Eskimos, they couldn't find a word in their language for forgiveness. They had to combine a series of shorter words into one compound word: Issumagijoujungnainermik. Although the word appears formidable, its meaning is beautiful, being translated: "Not-being-able-to-think-about-it-anymore."

You've probably noticed that unforgiving people usually have good memories. Some can hold a grudge for a lifetime. But love never keeps a record of wrongs committed against it. It forgives and is unable to think about them anymore.

That's what Paul had in mind when he said that love "does not take into account a wrong suffered" (1 Cor. 13:5). The Greek word translated "take into account" was used of the entries in a bookkeeper's ledger. Those entries helped the bookkeeper remember the nature of each financial transaction. In contrast, love never keeps a record or holds others accountable for the wrongs they've committed against it.

The greatest example of that kind of love is God Himself. Romans 4:8 says, "Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will not take into account." Second Corinthians 5:19 adds, "God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them."

Every sin we commit as believers is an offense against God, but He never charges them to our account. We are in Christ, who bore our penalty on the cross. When we sin, we are immediately forgiven.

If you love others, you'll forgive them as God has forgiven you. Instead of holding them accountable for their offenses, you'll look beyond their sin to their potential in Christ. You'll heed Paul's admonition to "be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you" (Eph. 4:32). That's the character of true love.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Is there someone from whom you've been withholding forgiveness? If so, recognize it as sin and confess it to the Lord. Then be reconciled to that person right away.
  • Thank God that He doesn't keep an account of your sins (cf. Ps. 130:3).

For Further Study

What does Matthew 18:21-35 say about forgiving others?



From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.com.