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Keeping Score-March 11, 2024

Do you keep score and determine how many of your daily thought or actions take up a lot of your time? Does score keeping become a chore?

Monday Morning Devotion-March 11, 2024

Keeping Score

Love is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

                                                                                                    1Corinthians 13:5

*from June 2015

          Is there anything we do in our lives in which we don't keep score?   I'm thinking, "not much." Oh we don't actually carry a scorecard around with us or a sheet of paper and write down things like "OK that's one good deed I've done.  That's a "W" or a + sign."

            Then on the next one," Oops gotta put an "L" or a minus sign in the loss column for this because that never should have happened."

            Mentally I think that sometimes this is what we do.  Life can become a game of plusses and minuses or wins and losses if we let it. It is easy to fall into a competitive posture wherein everything we do evolves into some kind of an inner or an outer contest.  We strive so hard to win the day or get ahead that when we don't it is easy to be a sore loser and have that attitude or feeling permeate all the things we do that day and even beyond.  It is a constant battle.

            And when we lose out because we are wronged one of the first thoughts that naturally enters our mind is revenge.  I'll get that person for doing that or I'll get ahead of them or beat them out.

            Let me use the game of golf for example.  When playing a round of golf the golfer is playing against par, not against another player.  That is the way that the game is designed.  Each hole is assigned a degree of difficulty in that par is assigned to it.   Shorter holes are par threes.  Mid-distance holes are par fours with the long holes sometimes have a par five assigned to them.

            So, you are always trying to break par.  One under par is a birdie while one over is a bogey.  Two under is an eagle and two over is a double bogey and so on.

            There are other factors that come into play.  The par three is not necessarily always easier than a par four or five.  It could have lots of sand traps around it or water hazards and may require a premium on accuracy and penalize the errant shot, maybe more than on a longer hole.

            The point of all this is that while the golfer, especially in a tournament is playing against par, he or she has an eye on the score of the other golfers because naturally they want to win.  So as you fall behind other golfers it is easy, even necessary to start playing against them instead of against par.  You start taking chances on shots instead of playing it safe. Because scorekeeping is taking place. Disaster can occur or remarkable comebacks can take place.

            In the game of love, if you want to call it that, Paul writes in Corinthians there is no scorekeeping.  When you are wronged, if you respond, in love it is not out of vengeance, but of forgiveness.

            Colossians 3:13-14 tells us the loving way to respond is not to keep score.  Forget and forgive.  "Forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.  Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity."

            When we do not keep a record of the wrong things that we are subjected to we clearly express God's love and forgiveness of us and of others. Often people say they love each other, but when one of them gets angry, out comes the list of past wrongs.  Aha, who was keeping score?

            "OK, so I did this, but you did that."

            "Well, I did that because you did this."

            I'm sure you can see where that is headed…meltdown.  And it is accelerating because of scorekeeping.  Not saying that you should let people continually abuse or take advantage of you.  There comes a time when that is just not good for you, and it may require action.  If scorekeeping hasn't occurred or isn't brought into the discussion or situation then wounds can more easily be salved over.  And forgiveness, if it is sincere, is the answer to patching things up.

            Now, I hope I am not coming off sounding holier than thou.  I admit to being competitive.  I sometimes am too thin-skinned and react badly.  In other words, I am human just like you and these things happen.

            In retrospect, when we look back on these situations, we can usually see how a little bit of forgiveness could have been much more effective than keeping count of how far behind you are in righting wrongs.

            OK, I'm going to bring this up.  It's in the Bible.  Peter asked Jesus how many times he should forgive his brother.  And then thinking he was being magnanimous he added his own answer saying should I forgive him as many as seven times.  Jesus answered, no you should forgive him seventy-seven times. 

            Wow.  How many of us could do that?  I venture to say none of us.  Here is what the Life Application Bible says: "When Jesus answered seventy-seven times his meaning was that we shouldn't keep track of how many times we forgive someone.  We should always forgive those who are truly repentant, no matter how many times they ask."

            I have to think about that.  I recall the old saying:  "fool me once shame on you.  Fool me twice shame on me."  But what if we prayed for forgiveness on a repeated misdeed or sin and the Lord said, "No, no.  That's the second time you did that.  No more forgiveness."

            How devastating would it be to hear the Lord say, "no more forgiveness.  You have reached your limit.  You have messed up too many times."

            OK so what do we learn from all this.  If you have an ax to grind, as a Christian try to bury the hatchet.  That is the loving way to try to do it.  And I know we are trying to cover a large area of wrongdoing here with one general statement.  And truthfully, some people will not forgive you and some won't let you forgive them.

            But we keep working on it.  Trying to do the right thing.  And the best way to make progress and to become more forgiving is to not keep score of wrongs in the first place.

Monday Prayer: Lord, we need your help as we try to become more forgiving and to not keep a record of wrongs.  Amen!

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