Love Keeps No Record of being wronged

July 30, 2017

2017 is an year of
anniversaries. the 500th Anniversary of the Protestant reformation, the 150th
anniversary of Confederation, it was a 100 years ago the survivors of the
Shackleton expedition were rescued from Antartica.  2017 is the 40th Anniversary of  Star Wars and The 50th Anniversary of the
Summer of Love.
Last week Deborah mentioned
that she was negative 20 in the summer of Love. 
Which of course was when 100,000 hippies and flower children descended
on the Haight Asbury district of San Francisco in the summer of 1967. 
I was 7 that summer and we
were living in Germany.  I think we
visited Spain in the summer of 67. 
Actually by the time I was 8 I had already lived in or visited 9
countries, which was kind of cool.
I didn’t wear a flower in my
hair, because my parents kept my hair cut so short that they would have had to
staple the flower to my head. 
We are recognizing the summer
of love this Summer at Cornerstone by focusing on 1 Corinthians 13.  And each week we’ve been taking the time to
read the entire passage together. 
Because it’s really important and if you don’t remember anything else
this summer we want you to remember 1 Corinthians 13.   This morning we are going to read the
passage responsively.  That simply means
that I will read a section and then you will read a section.  
1 Corinthians 13:1-13  If I could speak all the languages of earth
and of angels, but didn’t love others,
I would only be a noisy gong
or a clanging cymbal. 
If I had the gift of prophecy,
and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and
if I had such faith that I could move mountains,
but didn’t love others, I
would be nothing. 
If I gave everything I have to
the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it;
but if I didn’t love others, I
would have gained nothing. 
Love is patient and kind.
Love is not jealous or
boastful or proud or rude.
It does not demand its own
way.
It is not irritable, and it
keeps no record of being wronged. 
It does not rejoice about
injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 
Love never gives up, never
loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. 
Prophecy and speaking in
unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last
forever! 
Now our knowledge is partial
and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole
picture! 
But when full understanding
comes, these partial things will become useless. 
When I was a child, I spoke
and thought and reasoned as a child.
But when I grew up, I put away
childish things. 
Now we see things imperfectly
as in a cloudy mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity.
All that I know now is partial
and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now
knows me completely. 
Three things will last
forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.
This week we are looking at
the last part of verse five which tells us in 1 Corinthians 13:5 . . . Love
keeps no record of being wronged.
In its simplest form we take
this to mean “Love forgives” but it’s deeper than that.  It’s more like. . .  “Love doesn’t hold a grudge.” 
You can forgive and yet still
remember the wrong that was done and the hurt that happened.
Willie Nelson wrote and sang
the words “Forgiving you was easy but forgetting seems to take the longest
time.”
I tell people it’s like when
you cut yourself and you have a scar. It no longer hurts, but the scar is a
reminder of the hurt.  Now if you’re
lucky the scar will completely fade away and there will be no reminder of the
hurt.
But this actually goes deeper
than that reminder you have of the hurt, In the Daily Study Bible William
Barclay tells us “The word translated store up (keep a record)  is an accountant’s word. It is the word used
for entering up an item in a ledger so that it will not be forgotten.”
But when we say “love keeps no
record of being wronged”, it’s like having plastic surgery to remove the scar
or taking an eraser and erasing the entry in the ledger.
But, just like making the
decision to have plastic surgery or erasing the entry we have to make the
decision to stop holding a grudge.
This morning we are going to
jump back into the Old Testament to see this demonstrated in a very practical
sense. 
There is a very familiar story
in the book of Genesis about a boy named Joseph, you probably remember him from
the story of Joseph and his coat of many colours.  Is it starting to sound familiar?
So here is the back
story.  Joseph’s father was Abraham’s
Grand-son Jacob, and Jacob had a pile of kids.  
And out of all his children he had a favourite.  That happens sometimes, my sister was the
favourite. 
That’s my story, her story is
slightly different.  H.C. Wilson is fond
of saying that “Where you stand is determined by where you sit.”
But in the case of Joseph and
his siblings it was evident to all that Joseph was the favourite.  His father gave him the proverbially coat of
many colours, which was really a really fancy robe. 
Those in the know tell us that
this robe not only showed Joseph’s standing but also bestowed special
privileges on Joseph as the favoured son. 
It would be like you giving most of your kids work clothes and rubber
boats and then giving one kid a really nice suit. 
And this was even evidenced in
the story where we discover that while the rest of the brothers were out tending
the flocks, Joseph was at home with Dad and it was Joseph who was the one sent
out to check up on his siblings.  That
really endeared him to them.
But it went deeper than
that.  Joseph reveled in being the
favourite, he knew he was special and he wanted everyone else to know it as
well.  
And then he began having the
dreams.  If you know the story you know
the dreams.  Joseph had dreams that he
interpreted as meaning his brothers and sisters would all bow down to him. 
Joseph was much more excited
about sharing his dreams with his brothers than his brothers were when they
heard his interpretation of the dreams.
So, if you don’t know the
story, the other brothers are out tending the flocks Joseph is home and Jacob
sends his favourite son to check up on the others. 
To make a long story short the
other brothers sell Joseph into slavery, take his fancy coat dip it in animal
blood and tell their father that his favourite child had been killed.
They end up rid of Joseph and
Joseph ends up in Egypt as a slave.
Now I don’t want to spend a
lot of time here but there are a few things at the beginning of the story that
we need to understand if we are going to understand the end of the story. 
The first thing is Joseph was
a Jerk.  Seriously, there was nothing
Joseph could do about being his father’s favourite son, he didn’t write that
part of the story.
But he didn’t have to rub his
brother’s noses in it.  He flaunted the
fancy robe that his father had made for him, he made sure to let his father
know whenever one of the other brothers messed up. 
Not even to mention the entire
dream and the “you’re all going to bow down and worship me” thing.
No wonder the other kids
didn’t like Joseph, there wasn’t a lot there to like.  Often we are the author of our own
misfortunes. 
But that being said, His
Brothers Were Bigger Jerks
Come on guys, he was 17 years
old for crying out loud.  I was a jerk
when I was 17 and nobody sold me into slavery.  
Understand, I’m not saying that nobody wanted to sell me into slavery.  I’m just saying they didn’t.
Right from the account of the
Bible’s first family, there has been tension between siblings. You only have to
get four chapters into the bible and you see Cain killing his brother
Abel. 
The relationship you have with
your siblings will probably be the longest relationship you will ever have with
anybody, and it is so complicated and so messy.  
Jeffrey Kluger wrote “Your
parents leave you too soon and your kids and spouse come along late, but your
siblings know you when you are in your most inchoate form.”
You have probably said things
to your brothers and sisters that you wouldn’t think of saying to another human
being, unless you are a complete sociopath. 
Especially when you were a teenager.
I Love the story told about
the little boy in Sunday School class, the teacher was focusing on the Ten
Commandments and asked the class “Are there any commandments about how we
should treat our brothers and sisters?” 
The class sat and thought for a while and a little guy put up his hand
and said “Thou shalt not kill?”
Joseph’s brothers had
obviously missed that class because the original plan was to drop Joseph down a
dry well and let him starve to death.  So
technically they wouldn’t be killing him, Instead he gets a last minute
reprieve when they sold him into slavery for 20 pieces of silver.
For a minute, I want you to
focus on the path the story takes at this point.
It begins in Genesis 37:8  His brothers responded, “So you think you
will be our king, do you? Do you actually think you will reign over us?” And
they hated him all the more because of his dreams and the way he talked about
them.
And so it begins with the
resentment they felt toward the younger brother.   It Started as a Feeling   That’s why Jesus warned people in Matthew
5:21-22  “You have heard that our
ancestors were told, ‘You must not murder. If you commit murder, you are
subject to judgment.’  But I say, if you
are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone
an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse
someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell.
Jesus knew that what starts in
the heart doesn’t stay in the heart.
And that’s what happens in the
story, let’s keep reading.
Genesis 37:18  When Joseph’s brothers saw him coming, they
recognized him in the distance. As he approached, they made plans to kill him.
You see what happened.  What had started
in the heart had moved to the head.  It
may have started as an emotion but now It Became a Thought
Now they just weren’t feeling
cranky about their brother they are plotting his demise.   
But it didn’t end with the
thought, let’s keep going with the story.  
Genesis 37:28  So when the
Ishmaelites, who were Midianite traders, came by, Joseph’s brothers pulled him
out of the cistern and sold him to them for twenty pieces of silver. And the
traders took him to Egypt.
What started as a feeling
became a thought and then it Ended as an Action 
What was it that Ralph Waldo
Emerson said? “Sow a thought and you reap an action; sow an act and you reap a
habit; sow a habit and you reap a character; sow a character and you reap a
destiny.”  And if you think Stephen Covey
said that you need to read more.  That’s
like thinking Chris Tomlin wrote Amazing Grace.
And it all started because the
brothers felt that Joseph had done them wrong and they couldn’t get past
that.  Whatever love they had felt for
little Joe when he was born had been dissolved in the acid of resentment.  
Hold on to that, we’ll come
back to it later.
And there was a cost for them
because it hardened their souls, and there was a cost for their father because
he had lost a child and there was a cost for Joseph because he had lost his
freedom.
So, let’s get the timeline
straight.  Joseph was 17 when he was sold
into slavery.  A whole bunch of stuff
happened including jail time for a false allegation of assault but when Joseph
is 30 he has become an advisor to the Pharaoh and eventually ended up second in
command in the entire country. 
Joseph guides Egypt through 7
years of prosperity, stockpiling grain and food in preparation for a severe
reversal of fortunes which he had foretold from a dream that his boss had.
When the drought and famine comes
it not only affects Egypt but also Joseph’s home land and his brothers
eventually come with cap in hand looking for help. 
Now at this point they have no
way of knowing who Joseph was.  The last
they had seen their brother he was a seventeen-year-old slave.  Now he’s close to forty and the second most
powerful man in all of Egypt. 
If you haven’t read the story
it’s found in the bible at the end of Genesis. 
If you don’t have a bible mention it to one of the staff and we’ll give
you are really nice bible.
We still have the fast forward
button pushed down.  Joseph reveals who
he is to his brothers and has them move the entire family to Egypt. 
With this chapter in the story
closing we read In Genesis 47:11-12  So
Joseph assigned the best land of Egypt—the region of Rameses—to his father and
his brothers, and he settled them there, just as Pharaoh had commanded.  And Joseph provided food for his father and
his brothers in amounts appropriate to the number of their dependents,
including the smallest children.
Still with me?  The finger is still on fast forward, after
another 17 years Jacob, Joseph’s father, dies and his brothers all come to the
same conclusion. 
And it’s found in Genesis
50:15  But now that their father was
dead, Joseph’s brothers became fearful. “Now Joseph will show his anger and pay
us back for all the wrong we did to him,” they said.  Which from their perspective made perfect
sense.
They knew what it felt to
harbour a grudge, to nurse it to keep it warm, to brood over all those slights
and hurts until they were impossible to forget. 
Liane Moriarty  wrote “They say it’s good to let your grudges
go, but I don’t know, I’m quite fond of my grudge. I tend it like a little
pet.”   And so the brothers figured that Joseph
had been doing what they would have been doing. 
So let’s land where we’ve been
heading all along.  Genesis 50:19-21  But Joseph replied, “Don’t be afraid of me.
Am I God, that I can punish you?  You
intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this
position so I could save the lives of many people.  No, don’t be afraid. I will continue to take
care of you and your children.” So he reassured them by speaking kindly to
them.
So what do we learn from this
passage about not keeping a record of wrongs?
Genesis 50:19  But Joseph replied, “Don’t be afraid of me.
Am I God, that I can punish you?”
It Started as a Thought  It began when he Intellectually forgave them,
when he realized the futility of bearing a grudge. 
He must have read the book
Unapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience,  Where Steve Maraboli, writes  “When you hold a grudge, you want someone
else’s sorrow to reflect your level of hurt but the two rarely meet.”
So, it begins when
intellectually Joseph decides to let go of any bad feeling he might have toward
his brothers. It wasn’t something he felt, it was something he thought.
Notice the difference in the
timeline.  What the brothers did to
Joseph began as an emotion.  They felt
hatred, then they thought up a plan. 
Here forgiveness begins as a thought. 
First you have to first decide to forgive someone and then you forgive
them.
Genesis 50:20  You intended to harm me, but God intended it
all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many
people.
It Became a Feeling  It was after he made the decision that
emotionally he was able to forgive them.
And it was at that point that
he realizes the good that has come out of what had happened.
But it wasn’t enough that
Joseph had moved from an intellectual understanding to an emotional
releasing.  Let’ keep reading.
Genesis 50:21  No, don’t be afraid. I will continue to take
care of you and your children.” So he reassured them by speaking kindly to
them.
So you see the progression,
what started as a thought became a feeling and It Ended as an Action  It was in his actions that his forgiveness
became a demonstration of love.  Not only
had he forgiven his brothers intellectually and emotionally, he had forgiven
them practically as well. 
In my last message I spoke
about the fact that the Greek word that was used here for “Love” was “Agape”
and it meant an unconditional love.
Agape is more an intellectual
response than an emotional response,  it
is more a decision of the mind than the heart. 
That’s why Jesus could tell us
in Matthew 5:43-45  “You have heard the
law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy.  But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those
who persecute you!  In that way, you will
be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight
to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust
alike.
So, here is what you need to
take away from this week, “You will choose to keep a record of wrongs or you
will choose to not keep a record of wrongs, 
but understand it will be your choice.”
Elon Musk understood that when
he said, “Life is too short for long-term grudges.”
What is it that you need to
let go of?   I don’t know and probably
the person that you are holding the grudge against doesn’t know, but you
do.  But remember, Love keeps no record
of wrongs.