by Christy Hoagland

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, 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.”

A man in our Friday night service has been asking for prayer over the past few months for his daughter.  He desperately wanted to hear from her and know she was doing okay.  His prayer was that she would walk with Jesus and that He would lead her life.  Her silence troubled him so he began to pray and asked us to pray with him.  This past Friday, he showed us a card he had received from his daughter with the very first words written by her…love is patient, love is kind…1 Corinthians 13:4-7 and the words “no record of wrongs” underlined.  He was overjoyed and we rejoiced with him, God answered his plea for this man’s precious daughter, not only that she would walk with Him but to let her dad know she was well and that she loved him and then to encourage him.  How good our God is!!

I’ve thought a lot about this phrase “no record of wrongs” and how this truth about our great and mighty God is so incredible and so important.  An inmate in our service last night, at a maximum security prison gave His life to Jesus.  This man’s sentence is life without parole, a ever-present reminder of his record of wrongs but he has found freedom through Christ Jesus because Jesus gave His life to stamp out that record.  An offender clearly has a record of wrong and they are constantly reminded of that record, with every court appearance, every time they look at the number on their clothes, every time they see a guard, and more.  But God sees the man, the woman…their identity is not defined by their wrongdoings, by their sin, but by Jesus.  This holy God, the creator of all things, loves more than we ever could.  That ultimate love is wrapped up in Jesus’ death on a cross for all mankind.  And when we become His, God remembers our sin no more. Psalm 103:12 says “As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.”  God can do this, see past our mistakes and remember them no more…but people…for some reason it’s harder for us to grasp, harder for us to love, harder for us to see past the wrongs and even harder to forget them.  I’ve seen this over and over again, people (even Christians) finding it difficult to love some who is incarcerated or has been incarcerated.  How sad…but we all do it, don’t we?  Someone who might have compassion for the homeless or an offender but not the crotchety old lady at church.  Or someone compassionate about missions overseas but not their next door neighbor.  Or perhaps somebody is really good at showing love to most anyone except the homosexual or transgender person they see in the store or on the news or in their own family.  You may want to stand up and say, “Hey! Their sin is an abomination, their sin is against a holy God!”  It is and they need a Savior, just like you do, just like I do.  They need the truth, that Jesus came to die for their sin too…whether their sin took them to prison or anything else we deem as undesirable and how dare we try to belittle Jesus’ sacrifice by acting like it doesn’t cover ALL transgressions.  The forgiveness Jesus offers brings freedom from remembrance, freedom from condemnation.  Us humans want to keep viewing others a certain way, those in Christ and those who haven’t received Him.  We have a hard time seeing people the way God does…as lovely, precious, forgiven or needing forgiveness.  I’m thankful for a God that loves us so much and pray that He will help me to love like He does.

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