The Simplified Terms
~ 1 Corinthians 13:4-5 ~
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful”
In this article I’m going to try to delve into the idea of what it looks like to show love that is not resentful. But let’s be real. This article is not just for me to tell you what my thoughts are. I don’t want you to just sit there and let your eyes drift aimlessly down the screen. I want you to engage your brain and think about this with me. In fact, I encourage you to stop reading and pray. Invite God to examine your heart with you and discover if you have any misconceptions of love that need to change in the area of being resentful. I’m serious, try it.
So. Now that your heart’s on track, what does that word “resentful” mean exactly? It seems kind of harsh. Well, here are some different translations of that word.
NASB — does not take into account a wrong suffered
ESV — not irritable or resentful
NLT — keeps no record of being wronged
KJV — thinketh no evil
MSG — Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others
And lastly, the Strong’s Concordance lists the definition of this word this way: to reckon, to consider
A modern-day translation of this word might be bitterness. I think one of the biggest things to notice about this word and concept is that it deals more with our thoughts towards people than with our actions towards people. We’ve all heard that “love is an action, not a feeling”, but I present to you that love is also a mindset. Where some of the other qualities of love, like not being arrogant or rude, are outward actions, being resentful or bitter is something that can stay boiling in our minds for quite some time before it ever flows into our actions.
The Shocking Reality
This may surprise you, but holding onto bitterness inwardly (or in common terms, having a bad attitude) towards someone is still SIN. Yes, I said that three letter word that we like to avoid using. Christ said that a hateful thought was just as much sin as murder, and a lustful thought was as much sin as having an affair. May I suggest to you that being resentful or holding a grudge is as much sin as any other “big sin”. As Christians I think we believe the lie that our thoughts and attitudes are our own business. I think we believe that a thought by itself can’t be a sin. I think we believe that they don’t affect anybody, but the truth is that THEY AREN’T, IT CAN, and THEY DO. The end of Luke 6:45 says “for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” (ESV)
What is in your heart will come out in one way or another. Guaranteed. No matter how good of a front you put on.
And besides all that, to pretend that you could separate your outward actions from your heart’s attitude is insanity. Your actions always follow your attitudes. Even if you are successful at hiding the roots of bitterness in your heart for a short while, you’re missing the point! If you keep a record of wrongs or hold bitterness in your heart, that isn’t the real deal. That’s not real love. It’s still sin, and most importantly it’s not what God wants from you.
I don’t know if you are anything like me, but I do know you’re human. I know that to some extent we all struggle against resentment in our relationships with others. Whether it’s a relationship with a family member that has hurt you, with a careless friend, with a significant other that disappointed you, or even some random stranger that was unkind to you, we need to scan our heart daily for any hint of resentment. Resentment and bitterness are ugly things to keep hold of. They are detrimental and destructive in any relationship, and they will decimate real love before you even notice those feelings are there.
The Solution Available
So considering all of that information I just threw at you, what does that mean? What can we do if we do a “heart scan” and discover that we have resentment in our hearts? The first thing we should do is thank the Lord for making our sin evident to us. Yes, I just said we should thank Him. The fact that He has helped you to acknowledge that this attitude is present means you can now fix it. Spiritual growth is all about pruning the ugly parts of our spiritual vine so that more good fruit can grow. Pruning hurts, but it must be done. So be grateful when you find an area that God is calling you to work on.
The second part of the solution is quite simple really. The only way to get rid of resentment is to forgive. Notice, I said the solution was simple, not easy. You see, the thing we dislike most is that forgiveness is a war not won with a single battle. It’s an every day, sometimes every hour, decision to love the other person and value their rights above your own. It’s not fun, it’s not fair, but it is fundamental. I know from personal experience that holding onto resentment can handicap your spiritual life faster than anything else. So when 1 Corinthians 13 says that love is not resentful and does not keep a record of wrongs, we have a choice. We can choose to obey God and forgive even when it doesn’t seem fair, and allow it to grow us, or we can choose to hold onto the poison of bitterness and let it slowly kill our spiritual vine.
So what do you need to do? Like I mentioned before, I want you to come to that conclusion yourself through your own study of God’s Word and the things that He shows you. But if He has shown you something in the course of this article, I urge you to not let it go. I urge you to – “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you” as Paul writes in Colossians 3:5 (ESV). It doesn’t say to pray it away or just ignore it. It says put it to death. Knock it out. Don’t give it a foothold. Annihilate it. COMPLETELY.
So, I ask you again, what do you need to do?
A short biography from the author, Heather Paris:
So a few things about me: I am a pastor’s kid who has lived in New York state all my life, but I currently attend Appalachian Bible College in Mt. Hope, WV. I am a sophomore in the Missions – TESOL program and I couldn’t be more excited about where God is leading me. A few of the things I am passionate about are music, kids, and missions! When I’m not studying for finals, I’m usually picking a tune on my six-string, or being a crazy camp counselor or discipling young girls in my church. Whatever I’m doing, I do with the purpose and desire of knowing Him more closely.