In 1 Corinthians 13, the “love chapter,” we have a list of love’s attributes. Included in the description of love are some things that love is not. Verse 5 says that love “keeps no record of wrongs.” Or, as the Amplified Bible translates it, “It takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong].”
This idea of keeping no list of wrongs directly connects with Paul’s words to the Corinthian believers earlier in the epistle. Some in the church were bringing lawsuits against other Christians. Instead of settling church matters among themselves in a spirit of humility and love, they were dragging each other to court. Paul takes a firm stand on the matter: “The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated?” (1 Corinthians 6:7). To combat the attitude of demanding one’s “pound of flesh,” Paul wrote that love “keeps no record of wrongs.” In fact, it is better to be cheated than to be unloving.
Jesus Christ provided the ultimate example of this type of love. On the cross He paid the price for the sins of the entire world. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). Jesus kept no record of wrongs; rather, He prayed, “Father, forgive them,” from the cross as He died (Luke 23:34).
Colossians 3:13-14 also ties forgiveness to love: “Forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” Refusing to keep a record of wrongs is a clear expression of God’s love and forgiveness.
So often, people say they love each other, but, as soon as one gets angry, out comes the list of past sins! Accusations fly, painful memories are dredged up, and bygones are no longer bygones. This is not love. True, godly love forgives and refuses to keep track of personal slights received. The focus of love is not one’s own pain, but the needs of the loved one.
Obviously, we should not allow people to continue to hurt or abuse us or others. That’s not what 1 Corinthians 13:6 is teaching. The goal is to have a spirit of reconciliation, to forgive those who seek forgiveness, letting the past stay in the past.
Some people have an ax to grind, but Christian love seeks to bury the hatchet. Love keeps no record of wrongs, for we forgive as Christ has forgiven us. When Peter asked Jesus, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times” (Matthew 18:21-22). That is love.