How much of the unhappiness and misery of life arises from reckoning up our wrongs, or from "standing up for our rights," which is the more active expression of the same feeling. For the two are but differing symptoms of the same disease—love of self. The person who stands up for his rights is arrogant, quarrelsome, and assertive, while the spirit which reckons up her wrongs is filled with a bitter, sullen resentment which corrodes the soul like a canker.
lt seems so proper, so reasonable, that we should not calmly sit down and submit to inquiry. Who but a fool would turn the other cheek when smitten upon the one? The Christ never meant that to be taken literally, we say. Reason and common sense forbid the supposition; and so we insist upon our "pound of flesh." We want nothing unjust, nothing that a reasonable, clear-headed person would not admit to be perfectly right and our due, yet, "Love seeketh not her own," "Love does not reckon up her wrongs." Did the Christ seek His own? "He went like a lamb to the slaughter, and like a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He opened not His mouth." Did He reckon up His wrongs? With His dying breath He prayed: "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do! "
"They know not what they do." That is the key to the whole situation. Doubtless, sometimes injury is inflicted willfully, of set purpose, with malicious intent to wound. But of this probably few of us have any experience. It is the thwarting of our desire with boorish rudeness by some one of those with whom we rub shoulders day by day, or the hasty word, the ill-considered action of a friend, which inflicts the wrong, whether real or imaginary. And, literally, these know not what they do. A little thoughtlessness, a little ignorance, a momentary selfishness on their part, and a slow fire of resentment is kindled in our heart which, like some deadly growth, spreads its fibers through the life. It lies down with us at night, and we wake to the dull ache of bitter, brooding thoughts, which, like the Phoenix, nourished by its own blood, feed and grow upon themselves until a condition is reached which is hell itself. For hate, and hell, and death are interchangeable terms and mean exactly the same thing; while love is life, and he who loves in exactly that degree, is a manifestation of God, and death has no dominion over him.
Were it not well, therefore, that we who call Christ Lord and Master should take it counsel with ourselves sometimes, and seriously consider whether we are able to "face the music"? It is very sweet to sing of "the length, and breadth, and height" of "the love of Christ to me," but the point to be settled is whether that love, "the love of Christ which passeth knowledge," is within ourselves as an active principle, going out to all, whether friends or foes, never wavering, "proof against all things, always trustful, always hopeful, always patient," for the love of Christ to us will avail us very little, if it be not the love of Christ in us. And "love does not reckon up her wrongs."