What’s The Score?

Pastor Paul Witkop

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By Paul Witkop –

My children have been involved in sports teams for many years. When they first started to play, the emphasis was on enthusiastic participation, good sportsmanship and energy-burning fun. However, in the middle of the soccer games, one of them would ask, “What’s the score…are we winning? How many points do we need to get even and overtake our opponents?” The coach and parents would all answer in unison, “It doesn’t matter…we are just having fun.” Yet, somehow, the children, the parents and the coaches all knew the score. In our minds, someone had to win and someone had to lose.

The culture we live in is into score-keeping. Some score-keeping is necessary and helpful because it helps us measure our goals. Scores can point out those places where we compare favorably and those areas where we need to do more work. If we score poorly on a math test in school, it is an indicator that we might need to spend some extra time studying math. A high Apgar score indicates a healthy baby at birth. A low score could help doctors focus on body systems needing more attention. We keep score on our investments to make sure we are saving enough for the time when we retire.

Score-keeping can also be harmful. Some people are looking to retaliate and get even for any hurt or wrong that comes their ways. Others will seem like they are generous givers but they are only generous toward those who can benefit them. Jesus had some very countercultural things to say about score-keeping.

Do you think you deserve credit merely for loving those who love you? Even the sinners do that! And if you do good only to those who do good to you, is that so wonderful? Even sinners do that much! – Luke 6:32-33

You might say that Jesus told his followers to keep score no more. It’s a radical way to live…it’ll never work, some might contend. Yet, when Jesus went to the cross for the sin of everyone in the world, he called us to trust him to settle all the old scores and to enter into the rest of our lives keeping score no more.

At the end of every sports season, there is one winner and there are many losers. I am very grateful that God’s love for me and for all who choose to trust in him is not based on score keeping. If it were, certainly I would be one of the losers. God’s love for us is not based on our achievements but on a trust relationship with Jesus.

When we trust Jesus and follow him, he asks us to keep score no more with each other. Life is not about keeping score and getting even. It’s about forgiveness. In Ephesians 4:32 we read, “Instead, be kind to each other, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” Forgiveness is not possible in our own strength. It goes against our natural instinct to get even. By trusting in him, God gives us this opportunity to be free from the bitterness of holding grudges and doing everything we can do to come out on top at the expense of others. God gives us the strength to love as God loves us. It’s a win-win solution. It’s getting right rather than getting even. It sure beats keeping score.

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