In 1 Corinthians 13:5, Paul uses two negative descriptions—“is not provoked” and “doesn’t take into account a wrong suffered.” In other words, genuine love isn’t fragile. Agape applies lots of grace to a relationship; it leaves lots of room for the other person to make mistakes. And when you live in close proximity to someone for the majority of a lifetime, there will be lots of them to overlook.
I’ve seen both men and women who are constantly irritated by their mates. The smallest error—a wrong look, a misplaced word, a simple oversight—causes miniature explosions throughout the day. These little outbursts of irritability must certainly be the result of keeping a long list of wrongs close at hand. Paul uses an accounting term to caution us against keeping a mental ledger of bad deeds. When we do that, we’re losers.
The truth is, we can keep a list without writing anything down or even realizing it. If you find that your mate irritates you for reasons that you must admit are minor, the chances are good that he or she has something on the wrong side of your ledger sheet. Either address your anger appropriately and promptly, or simply let it go.
Adapted from Charles R. Swindoll, Marriage: From Surviving to Thriving (Nashville: W Publishing Group, 2006), 116–18. Copyright © 2006 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide.