Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Learning to Love...Really

"Love keeps no record of wrongs."-1 Corinthians 13:5

I like to collect things. I keep them for a long period of time in hopes that one day I'll look back and have nostalgic moments of "remember whens". I learned last night that I like to collect more than just stuff...leaves, key chains, tickets to events...I collect wrongs. I'm pretty sure all of us do it at one point or another in our lives. You know, you'll be reminiscing about a past relationship or friendship and that certain event that either ended or tainted it comes up. The bitterness, the annoyance, even the heartache returns after months or even years of letting go. For years, I've had this habit of remembering every wrong thing a guy has ever done to me. I used to preach sermons to my guy friends about the importance of character, integrity, and assertiveness...qualities lacking in Christian men as of date. But my soap box approach, at that point in time, was not for the better of my brothers. Rather, it was to get MY point across about being hurt. Their actions hurt me, or hurt another girl, so, out of anger and frustration, I would correct. Later on, I would recount to my female friends the numerous lessons I taught their male friends and a chorus of "Amens!" and "awesomes!" would resound. But yesterday I learned.

A friend of mine and I went for coffee (Nov.1) at Soma. We talked about the happenings in our lives and such. He then posed the question, "Amy, what are some things you hate about guys?" I felt my body physically prepare for another sermon. I was going to cut to his heart! But I couldn't speak. I had nothing to say. Because for all of these years of listening to girls complain about the male race...how they're inconsiderate, dishonesty, passive...it was always about me. The verse where Jesus talks about judging others...you know, He says to us, "You've got this 2 by 4 hanging out of your eye and you're complaining about that little speck of dust in your brother's? Really?" I scrambled for an answer. Surely he needed to hear what I had to say. So I presented a story of another friend of mine. It was a simple example regarding the importance of honoring his word. I had hesitated before opening my mouth. Something in my spirit said to stay silent, but I spoke anyway.

Later that night, I was talking with the friend about whom I had told the story. We were just about to finish up our conversation when this pang of conviction struck my heart. You see, I had told him that I had forgiven him. There was NO reason for me to bring up this story to another friend. My job as his friend to edify and protect him, right? I sat there for like two seconds and he recognized right away that something was on my mind. I looked at him, humble and broken, and apologized. Imagine what it would be like, arriving before the throne of God and having Christ-the sacrifice for our sins-recount EVERY SINGLE THING we had done. But He doesn't and He won't! Why? Because He LOVES us and has paid it all...those crimson blood stains are GONE. They are no more. Why, then, do we remember?

I collect wrongs because I am, without Christ, selfish. I am sinful without Him. Every single effort on my end without Him as my focus, is ABOUT ME. And what an absolutely lifeless life that is! Consider it for a moment. How empty do you feel after discussing what a person did to you years ago? Perhaps you even feel a superficial sense of right-ness. "He wronged me, so he's awful!" We get this "as-a-matter-of-fact", in-your-face type attitude that is dripping red with pride. From that, we have multiple conversations regarding relationships. This is what I really want in a guy or girl. The man or woman I marry will NEVER possess these qualities. I have one question for you...one that humbled me to my knees...what about you? Its not an in-your-face, attitude filled question, but I hear Christ asking it with a solemn voice, quiet as He kneels down to draw the line in the sand. "You who are without sin, cast the first stone." Which one of us can even dare to pick UP a stone?

Really, consider this. We judge situations based on scripture, the fruit of the Spirit. Does this produce love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control? Do you feel filled with joy overflowing after you destroy a lost love or friend with your words? We sing the praises of Christ, "Your grace is enough, your grace is enough, your grace is enough for me!" Well, then we ask...if we've received this grace...and it is enough...how dare we destroy the message of this grace:the message of our Savior, because we have been *gasp* wronged. Do you see the foolishness of it? When God humbles us, and He begins to move through us, changing our perspectives, and enabling us to understand how ALL have fallen short of His glory, how can we even remotely begin to judge?

So what does it mean to love someone...truly loving someone demands total humility...surrendering your friendship/relationship to Christ...and being humble enough and faithful enough, by God's grace, to forgive as the Lord forgave us. Once and for all...keeping no record of any wrong forgiven...and growing deeper and deeper in the wisdom and knowledge of the King, we find freedom at the cross. So I urge you, in view of His mercy and grace, keep no record of wrongs...and perhaps for the first time, realize that this beautiful gift called life is in no way shape or form about you. All glory, honor and praise goes to God. He is life.

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