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Life Notes

Love is not Resentful

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful… 1 Corinthians 13:4-5

Resentment is an indignant feeling of ill will because of something regarded as a wrong, insult, or injury. The act or acts associated with the resentment may or may not have been done intentionally, intended for the person who is now resentful, or an act that others would consider wrong, insulting, or injurious. Resentment is an individual perception, and as such is a choice we make. We can be wronged or injured and not become resentful, although we may experience disappointment or anger. When we do not express our feelings of anger or disappointment about something that truly bothers us, we repress those feelings and become resentful. Like a over inflated balloon, repressed emotions explode when exposed to heat.

In the context of a loving relationship, resentfulness is a double-edged sword, meaning it cuts both partners. Nelson Mandela, the South-African revolutionary, put it succinctly: “Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.” When we give others the silent treatment, we are likely resentful of something. We want him or her to repent of their sin(s) and treat us as we believe we deserve to be treated. Resentment is an immature, self-serving way to treat others, as well as an ineffective way to achieve what we want. Humans (particularly husbands) are terrible mind readers. When we need an apology or a behavioral change but we are not willing to confront the offending behavior, we are not very serious about building or maintaining a strong, healthy relationship; nor are we likely to be successful.

None of this is to say there are not behaviors worthy of resentment – intentionally cruel behaviors, for example. If we are in a loving relationship and the other person does not respond in positive ways to our sincere needs, the relationship is not a good one for us. In those cases, our resentment is more likely to hurt us than the other.

It is clear why the apostle Paul lists resentfulness as not characteristic of love. Love involves the actions we do for and with another. When our regular response to a relationship is resentment, the relationship is not a healthy or loving one for either party.

Let us make 2016 the year of love, as love was meant to be.

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