During the early years of our marriage, when Dave and I would have an argument, I would drag up things from the past that he had done wrong. Dave would respond with, "Where do you keep all this stuff recorded? How do you remember this?" He really didn't remember any of it, but I did. I was keeping accounts of things people did that I didn't like. And I had this attitude, "Now you hurt me, so you owe me!" The more they hurt me, the more they owed me, and I would try to make them pay me back.
The root of my problem was in my thought life. Jeremiah 4:14 says, "O Jerusalem, wash your heart from wickedness, that you may be saved! How long shall your iniquitous and grossly offensive thoughts lodge within you?" (The Amplified Bible). In this scripture, it's like God is saying, "Your stinkin' thinkin' offends Me!"
Why is it so much easier to think about and talk about the things we don't like – the offenses – than the good things? It's appalling how we can look at someone with our sweetest smile and at the same time be thinking, You are a jerk! When we keep negative records like this, it causes bitterness, resentment and unforgiveness, and it opens the door for Satan to work in our lives.
But love doesn't keep a mental list of the things people have done wrong. Love believes the best of every person and keeps no record of wrongs. Love wants good things to happen to people and rejoices with them when it does. Love never gives up on people. (See 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.) So if we really want to walk in love, we have to let God transform our thinking, our hidden thoughts – the hidden man of the heart.
When we believe the best of people, we let go of each thing they do that is hurtful to us. And we choose to think things like, I don't believe they meant to hurt me. Maybe they're having a bad day or don't feel well. They probably don't even realize how they sound. This changes the whole context of the situation and keeps us from holding on to an offense that the person may not even know exists.
We need to give each other a break sometimes and show mercy. We also need to decide what we're going to believe and think about how love behaves: Love believes the best!
Let me give you an example of this. I can choose to think about all the things Dave does that bug me, or I can make a list of all of his positive qualities, such as…
- Dave is quick to forgive me when I behave wrong toward him.
- He always picks up after himself and doesn't leave messes for others to clean up.
- He tells me every single day of my life that he loves me, and quite often, several times a day.
- He compliments me on my clothes and appearance.
- He buys me anything I want, as long as we can afford it.
- He takes me anywhere I want to go and rarely tells me no when I ask him to do something.
- He is stable with his moods.
- He takes care of himself and exercises. I like the way he looks!
- Dave is protective of me and makes me feel safe.
Thinking about the positive things helps me to appreciate what I have, rather than thinking about the things I don't have. And if all we do is think about the things people do that we don't like, we're going to have problems in our relationships. The only way we're going to get along with others is to learn to let stuff go because love covers people's faults and failures – it covers a multitude of sins! First Peter 4:8 says, "Above all things have intense and unfailing love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins [forgives and disregards the offenses of others]" (The Amplified Bible).
Remember that resentment builds walls, but love builds bridges. We all need to come to the point where our love takes no account of the evil done to it. The benefits include improved quality of life, less pressure, and increased peace and joy. That's a record worth keeping!