Tuesday, June 3, 2008

He Keeps No Records of Wrongs - When it is tempting to hate Grace

Jonathan Brink at Missio Dei posted about Why We Don’t Like Grace . It captures something that I have been struggling with ever since I heard the God Journey podcast from last Friday, Can We Make God Too Nice?

In this podcast they are talking with Darin Hufford who with one statement has completely rocked my boat. He has written a book (The God's Honest Truth) that explores the idea that the I Corinthians 13 passage on love actually describes God.

Look at the passage again for a minute

(1 Cor 13:4-8a NIV) Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

Hufford said that if God is Love then this passage not only describes how we are to act but also gives a complete description of God.

Now I really like that God is patient, kind, not envious, not boastful or proud or rude or self seeking or easily angered. I like that he does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. I love that he always protects, trusts, hopes and perseveres. I’m ecstatic that Love/God never fails.

What I am having a really hard time with is that God keeps no records of wrongs!!


Here is a bit of what I fought about with God this week because of this revelation:

“What do you mean you keep no record of wrongs? What of all those who have wronged me? What about all the things that they have done to me and others and are still doing? God…..aren’t you keeping up with all of them? How can you make anything right if you aren’t keeping a record of what they are doing wrong? You mean you are actually keeping NO RECORDS of what they are doing? You are not going to hold them to your record of the wrongs they have done? No....... What you must mean is that WE are not to keep records but it is ok if you do because you are God. Right? Hello?"

"Come on God. I’m supposed to be ok with this? My one hope was that someday you would show all of them where they went wrong. That I would be vindicated. That my rightness would at least be shown. It is not that I wanted them punished really….I’ve forgiven them….I just wanted them to see that I was right. But now I find out that you don’t even care enough to keep a little list? This is not how it was supposed to be. I thought you were going to come through for me here!!"

I hate this GRACE!!! It is not fair!! (Of corse to be honest I want this kind of Grace applied to me......I like Grace then.)

And then some verses do make more sense now.

Verses in Matt 18: Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?"
Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. You mean God has to live with this rule? God forgives seventy seven times – and more?

Or - Col 3:13 Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. So He does this too? He is not telling us to do something that He himself does not do?

And it totally explains this greeting: Luke 2:14 "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests." God at peace with man. This is the God who does not keep a record of wrongs.

It explains the Cross. It explains the God I want to be there for me. It explains how I love this God who does not treat me as my sins deserve.

I just have to get over the fact that it also explains a bit as to why He hasn’t shown me “right” yet here in my little situation.

No records???? Really????


Anonymous said...

Hi Barb,
yes, I think I've said in a post last week that God's love is not fair. The longer I thought about it, the more thankful I became that He is not fair with me!!

No records???? Yes!!!! Damn!! :)

Barb said...

Yep! You have to come back to that very fact. I want God to treat me one way and others another way. I'm so glad he doesn't.

Erin said...

Hard for those of us hoping for vindication, huh?

It's not so much that I want vindication as I want for people to realize how they hurt me...but then I'd have to want to realize how I have hurt others...so yeah, grace is good. We'll go with that.

Sara said...

wait a sec . . . you mean, what I want for me, the other guy gets too? That's not what I wanted! wait . . . you mean, I'm really just as bad as--them? No, no, no. I SO do not want to really believe that . . .

See, this is why Christianity is NOT a feel good religion . . . it says "You are INCREDIBLY screwed up. You cannot fix it. It takes a completely appalling and unfair sacrifice to work it out, and oh--by the way--if you decide it's worth it anyway, expect EVERYTHING to change . . . "

Good thing it's worth it.

Anonymous said...

Yep, God does not keep score of our so-called righteousness or others sin....and our sin. I am really glad about that....

Anonymous said...

Sarah said...
Not to put a damper on the party - you know I love this post and I think God is really speaking on love, and grace, and mercy.

But I have this little nagging question: how do Ananias and Saphira fit into this equation? Where was God's grace for them? I pose the question, simply because I don't have an answer. And I'm curious what others think...

June 3, 2008 8:47 PM

Barb said...

Husband and I have been talking about this tonight. He thinks that God has to keep a record for some of the other scriptures to be true of judgement seat stuff and reward promised in heaven. There are huge holes that need to be dealt with in this whole thing. I need to read more.
Thanks for bringing up the comment. It is an example of the problem that my husband is having with the whole post.

June 3, 2008 9:22 PM

Anonymous said...

Barb, I would encourage you to dig deeper about the verses on judgment. Someday I'll explain what I mean by that.

Tyler Dawn said...

It's okay that he keeps no records of the wrongs of my enemies because I keep a long list and remind him of it often.... after all, He has a lot on His mind and it;s the least I can do.


Joel Brueseke said...

Hi all,

I don't have a definitive answer to the reason for Ananias' and Saphira's deaths, and I don't think anyone does, because as with many Bible stories, this one leaves out a lot of details and I don't think we can really draw a solid, dogmatic conclusion from this one example - especially since it does seem to stray from the many examples that we do have of God's grace. We're simply not given a solid answer as to "why" these two people died, and at best we can only come up with various theories based upon only a small amount of evidence.

However, when it comes to God's unconditional love and grace, we have many other scriptural examples to look to. John tells us that God is agape (1 John 4:8,16). In 1 Cor 13, the exact same word is used. Agape is patient, agape is kind, etc.

And the Greek word in verse 5 is "logizomai," which means "to take an inventory." Agape does not take an inventory of evil (keep a record of wrongs).

I'm seriously trying to be brief here, but there's just so much to cover. :) The writer of Hebrews, in chapter 8, goes back and quotes from Jeremiah 31 as he describes what God has said about the New Covenant. In short, God says "I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more."

SIN was common to all of mankind, and had to be dealt with by God and so He gave the Law so that all of mankind would be charged with the guilt of sin (see Romans 5). However, He did this not so that He would always remember our sins, but so that in the culmination of things He could put the sin of the world on Jesus and give us His very righteousness in exchange (see 2 Cor 5:21).

Since sin has now been dealt with in finality, and we have become the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus, there is no record for Him to keep.

We miss the point of the gospel when we think of vindication. As others have said here, we want grace for our sins but we want those who have sinned against us to get their due. Fortunately, God is a huge grace giver and doesn't answer our prayers for vindication, but rather has forgiven us of all our sins, and as we realize this more and more, and as we grow in His grace and unconditional love, we will find it more within ourselves to forgive those who have sinned against us, and praying for a smothering of grace upon them, rather than God's judgment.

Sorry so long... I could keep on going! I have no problem if anyone disagrees with me on any of this, but this is how I see things.

Anonymous said...

In answer to the question of Annanias and Sapphira I think Joel has some good thoughts. Also, while I would agree with him that we do not know all of the details of that story there are a couple of additional thoughts I would add.

The verses just prior to the story of Annanias and Sapphira are of Barnabas selling a piece of property and giving it to the apostles for use in the church. A & P's story is shown as a contrast to Barnabas' generosity, love and honesty. A & P may have been trying to gain some adoration from those in the church by attempting to appear to be the same transformed person as Barnabas when they were not. A common malady today as well.

When they were caught in this deception they died. Scripture does not say that God killed them....they died....breathed their last. People whose importance comes from the adoration of others and require their high opinion often are very emotionally distraught when this type of situation occurs. I think it is highly likely that the emotional distress of being caught in their lie caused their physical death. In a way their sin was the cause of their death, not God.

One other thought about what scripture does not say. It does not say anything about whether God held this against A & P. In other words, we may see them one day in the presence of Jesus.

Free Spirit said...

Oh my gosh! Ok, I'm making the rounds today, of people I've found through Erin's blog: Decompressing Faith. This is fabulous!! I love YOUR writing, too! I am somewhat new to blogland, but LOVE what I am finding in the way of, what I consider to be, like-minded thinkers. What a great post, and so amazing this Love that Father is. I don't begin to understand it!

Anonymous said...

Interesting thoughts on the 1 Cor 13 passage. Tis always good to have my view of God expanded in new ways! I think He delights when we lift the covers a little farther into discovery. Thanks for the post.

One comment thought, God is love does not equal love is God, at least not in the math formula. This formula limits God and places Him in a wrong perspective. He is love and also above love. Equating the two will lead to major divergents paths from the expressions given in the Scriptures: Friend, Lover. Father, Provider, Prunner, Judge, Rewarder and so on.

There is a hugh difference between being Savior and a motivation behind being Savior.

Let's to also not forget that the context both before and aft is that of our gifting. I Cor 13 is how to use our gifting best! Paul could have used God, but he didn't.

Again, I like having my perception of God expanded, but lets also keep it in context so as not to go in a ditch.

Joel Brueseke said...


I think keeping with the context is always the right thing to do. Paul is indeed talking about how we operate in our various giftings, and he makes the overall point that I can do all kinds of great and wonderful things, but if I don't have agape (love), I'm nothing but a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.

However, the point that Darin Hufford makes in his book (according to what they talked about on the God Journey podcast - I haven't read the book), is that if all of these ways in which Paul describes agape are ways in which agape is to be expressed through us, God is not having us express agape in a way that is any different from how He expresses it.

In other words, if the descriptions of agape are for us, then it's only because it's the way God, who is agape, is.

Anonymous said...

Funny, I wrote about this same issue a couple of weeks ago. A few years ago God really confronted me about forgiving the man who killed my mother. You can read about it here:


It's amazing how God can change our attitudes on this, if we let Him.

Barb said...

thanks all for your comments. I really need to read more on this. There are verses in scripture that when held up to this verse just don't make much sense unless you re-interpret not keeping a record or play major games with those scriptures. I need more revelation to fuse the two.

Invisible Mountain Archeological Society said...

One reason we have such a hard time is because our view of justice is all screwed up. We think it's eye for eye, tooth for tooth. For God, it's about setting things right. He wants relationship with us so he removes the sin and sets us free. Gotta love grace!

Jeannette Altes said...

Hmm... This is all really good and I don't necessarily disagree with it. I bring this next up only because it has surfaced in my thoughts the last few day and I don't know the answer... the thought is basically, what about Revelation 6:9-11...

Those who had been killed because of their faith are at the very altar of God asking Him, bluntly, how long until You avenge us, God? He did not tell them they shouldn't ask that. They were given festive robes and told to be patient a little longer... in other words, I will avenge you, but not quite yet - not until they are done killing people on account of My name.

I don't know the answer, but I suspect a good deal of it comes back to it being a heart issue. Ours and theirs...

Anonymous said...

Katherine Gunn,

You raise a good question. As you know, just because people in the Bible say or do something does not mean it is approved by God. These folks calling for God's vengence does not necessarily mean that God will wreak havoc as those crying out desire.

There is a vengence of God, a justice of God, a judgement of God. But I think we often interpret it incorrectly by assuming this means something terrible when in fact God's justice will be to set the world right, to recreate it as he intended from the beginning, to reconcile all things to himself. How all this plays out for individuals I do not believe we have sufficient information to fully understand. (And, no I am not a universalist but I leave it to God to decide each person's devotion to him.)

Jeannette Altes said...

:-) In my experience, that is a wise choice, although not always easy in practice.

Anonymous said...


travis said...

Your struggle is quite entertaining!