Many of you know that I love sports. I love sports for several reasons. One, is that I admire the dedication it takes to become an athlete and the discipline required to train properly and eat right. Another reason I love sports is the exhilaration you feel when you achieve a faster time, a higher score, or reach a plateau that you have never obtained before. One more reason I love sports is for the competition; when it is good natured and accompanied with good sportsmanship. For me, there truly is an allure for the thrill of the victory and the agony of defeat. Can you pull out the victory in the final second? Can you be the clutch player and deliver a victory from the jaws of defeat?
All of this is determined by a score, a time, or some other measurable number. These numbers can be very beneficial. Case in point, Parker learned how to add and subtract, before kindergarten, watching Tampa Bay Rays baseball games with me. He would look at the score, and hopefully have to subtract the opponents score from the Rays score, to calculate the number of runs we were ahead. Sometimes though, he would have to add how many runs we needed to catch up and then add a “1” to see what we needed for us to secure the win.
However, keeping score can sometimes be extremely detrimental. Especially in relationships. For the past several weeks we have been talking about forgiveness in worship. We have looked at forgiveness as it relates to our relationship with God and how forgiveness relates to our relationships with others. I have mentioned that forgiveness is not about revenge but about redemption, and how if we cannot, or will not, forgive others, that will lead to us being separated not only from God, but from everyone else. We have also talked about God's ability to forget our sins, when we repent, seek to change, and are sincere in our remorse.
But how willing are we to do the same? One of the most damaging aspects to any relationship is when we keep score. Especially when we tell another that we forgive them. If we remember and recount all the faults of those we are in relationship with, then that relationship will have a hard time surviving. If the people you interact with make a mistake, and they will, and every time they do, we chastise them for not only making that mistake, but bring up every other mistake they have made in the past, then have we ever truly forgiven them? Think about that. How do you feel when some one utters the phrase, “Did you not learn from the last time?” or “Will you ever learn?” or the infamous, “Here we go again!”
Debbie and I attend a marriage seminar once a year. We do this for two reasons. One reason is that it is a great way for us to spend time together. The other reason is to be proactive in our relationship. We want to discover ways for us to grow together, support each other, and better understand one another. I will never forget a piece of advice given to us at one of the seminars we attended. The presenter said, “If you continually keep score in your marriage, the game will soon be over.” He was trying to convey that if a spouse always reminds the other of every fault they have ever committed, then the love will not grow, but fade.
The same things applies for us in our relationships with others; spouses, friends, co-workers, and church family, to name a few. If we tell someone that we forgive them, then the next time a mistake is made, we keep score and bring up past mistakes, where is the forgiveness?
So I encourage you to tear down your scoreboard. Love as God loves, treat others as God treats us. Remember, “The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:8-12, NIV).
Keeping score in relationships, whether is it how many times you forgive another, or how many times another has not forgiven you, will only bring about damage and pain. But, if you find yourself keeping score, try counting all of the positive things people have done for you, and then try to beat that. Besides, being nice to another is so much more fun than being mad at them!
Have a great week and I will see you Sunday!