Scorecards are used in a lot more places than just keeping track of who is winning or losing in a sports game.
Brothers and sisters, whether we admit it or not, a great many of us employ mental scorecards to evaluate so many things in our lives. We keep track of how many times the boss compliments your co-workers’ efforts but not yours. We’ll count how often that we are the ones who text or call that relative with whom we have a strained relationship, and get irritated that they don’t initiate contact with us in the same frequency. Maybe we will keep a mental checklist of how many times our significant other gets to have her way compared to the times that you get to, waiting to throw it back in her face when you get into a fight with her. Or we keep track of how many material possessions that other guys have compared to you, being secretly jealous of them when they get the cool new toys, and then internally gloat when you are the one who can show off the new pickup truck or bass boat.
Other times, we may worry about what God thinks of us when we mess up. We could be distressed that God doesn’t love us as much or has not fully forgiven us. You may have had a dark and depraved past filled with dwelling on and acting out sinful things that you are too ashamed to tell most people, and wonder deep down if God will forgive you of every single fault or if a few despicable deeds were too horrible even to receive His mercy. Maybe you’ve been a Christian for a while but have slid back into bad habits or have committed a huge, bone-headed whopper of a sin or two, and think that God will put a big, black “X” on His scorecard for you in the “sin” column, where it was once washed as white as snow by the blood of Jesus.
Guys, I’m here to tell you that you don’t need to feel this nagging guilt throughout your life. 1 John 1:9 proclaims, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness!” There is nothing that you have done in your past or anything you can do in the present or future, that can change God’s incredible love for you or your standing with Him if you’ve asked for His forgiveness and accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior. One of the most humbling, beautiful lines in Scripture is from Psalm 103:12: “as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”
Let’s now turn this thing around 180 degrees and examine how we look at other people. We’ve all been screwed over and deeply wounded by people to all sorts of degrees. Sometimes there is that one gargantuan pain you have that you feel you can never forgive someone of…oh, you can feel your blood start to boil right now just by thinking about it! Perhaps it was an ex-wife or ex-girlfriend who did the unimaginable and cheated on you. Maybe your father had abused you or abandoned you as a child. The pain can be unbearable. Yeah, it can be easy to forgive people of certain hurts, but there can be that one seething, haunting stab wound on your heart that just won’t heal.
Harboring lifelong grudges and holding resentment is no way to live a life dedicated to Christ. In fact, it goes against what the definition of love is. Yeah I know, people frequently bring up the “Love Chapter” of First Corinthians 13 talking about what Godly love is and is not. Yet there is a little phrase in that passage we may often overlook. In verse 5, it reads, “…[love] does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs…” Yikes! No record of wrongs. That’s right. You’ve got to daily wipe that scorecard you have against people in your life. It doesn’t matter if they are small sins we keep track of to use as “ammunition” towards people if and when an argument arises, or if a loved one destroyed your life and forever turned things upside-down.
Let me tell you this: our Heavenly Father wants you to forgive that individual, no matter how devastating that sin it is that they committed against you. He wants you to love and show mercy to everyone – your family, co-workers, neighbors, friends, business partners, ex-girlfriends, strangers, and enemies. You could be rationalizing that many people don’t deserve your forgiveness, and guess what? You’re absolutely right. They don’t. Just remember that you don’t deserve God’s love, either; but according to Romans 5:8, God loves you anyway!
Jesus didn’t sugarcoat this issue but said it point-blankly in Matthew 6:14-15: “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Just as God has generously and unconditionally forgiven you, you must generously and unconditionally forgive other people, no exceptions.
So tear up those scorecards in your heart. Burn them. Or to use a more appropriate phrase, nail those scorecards to the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Instead of keeping score or worrying about your own score with others, you should love God with all your might, know that He’s not holding anything over your head, draw close to Him, and obey Him. And love everyone else, whether they’re your closest kin or your worst enemy, and put their needs and wants before your own, no matter how they treat you in return. Not only will it relieve you of having to keep track of where everybody fits in the grand scheme of things (that’s God’s job), but you can live to carry out His mission for you on the battlefields of this life with nothing weighing you down mentally.
Brothers, let’s forgive everyone and praise God for His full forgiveness and grace.