Loving a Prodigal: No Record of Being Wronged

This is the fifth post in a weekly series of mini-devotionals on LOVE, which is the theme of the 2014 June 2 Worldwide Day of Prayer for Prodigals. This letter goes to the members of the Prayer for Prodigals community, but it is true for all of us.  

“Love…keeps no record of being wronged.” (1 Corinthians 13:5, NLT)

I did it again.  Our prodigal and a friend were with us.  We were telling stories—one of my favorite activities.  I couldn’t resist—I told not one, but two stories of bad choices he had made in the past.  He did not laugh.  He even looked hurt.I asked for his forgiveness.  Several times I have had to apologize for bringing up his past choices.Clearly I have kept some record of some wrongs.  Of course, I am a writer and speaker and stories are my currency.  And there is great benefit in remembering the past, learning from it and moving into a better future.

But probably you have, as I have, let the ways those choices—past or current—have touched, hurt, offended, angered me linger in my mind.  I have a mental list—sometimes even a written account—of those offenses.  Some are minor irritations, others are legitimate wrongs and some are deep wounds.

Perhaps you remember:

When he yelled and cursed at you.

When she lied to your face, intentionally deceitful and not at all remorseful.

How frightened you were for your other children when he threatened you.

When you waited up all night, not knowing where she was, what she was doing.

When you bailed him out of jail.

The night the police knocked on your door to tell you about the accident she was in.

On and on the list goes.

And then there are the words you have hurled back at your loved one:

“You always lie to me.”“You are never responsible.”

“Will I ever be able to trust you again?”

“You never care about anyone but yourself.”

You know—you have said these words.  I certainly have.

These words, these thoughts reflect the reality of “keeping record of wrongs.”

Our loved prodigals wrong themselves, others and those who love them.  Sometimes those wrongs pile up and threaten to crush us.  How can we trust, believe, hope?  How can we forgive?

Because Jesus has shown us how:  He came in love and was rejected.  He healed and was accused instead of thanked.  He was scourged and crucified, bearing our sins, while the crowd hurled insults, soldiers beat him and Pharisees smiled. And His response was “Father, forgive them.  They don’t know what they do.”

He could have called legions of angels.  He could have destroyed them on the spot.  He could have said, “I’ll be back—and I’ll get even.

But He didn’t. He forgave them.

And that’s what He asks us to do.  As we let the Spirit fill us with the same love Christ has, we are freed from making our lists, from keeping a record of the way our prodigals have wronged us.  And we are empowered to forgive and to truly love.

In His love,


What about you?  What’s on your list of wrongs suffered?

C2014 Judy DouglassIf you would like more information, to request prayer for a prodigal, or to join our full-of-grace community, please write to prayerforprodigalsatgmaildotcom with your questions or names, or for an invitation.