The Danger of Keeping Score
“Love is patient, love is kind … it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” 1 Corinthians 13:4a, 5b (NIV)
She was at it again. Mrs. Barnett was getting out the scorecards and tallying up the points.
I sat with an older woman as she began enumerating her family’s shortcomings. “Callie never comes to see me,” she began to complain about her granddaughter. “And she never calls me, either. I saw her sitting on the other side of the church last week, and she didn’t even come over and give me a hug.”
“Benjamin is just as bad,” she continued, talking about her grandson. “He never comes by unless he wants something. I never hear from him, but if he wants money for a mission trip, you better believe I get a letter. He’s just like his father,” she continued. “He never pays any attention to me unless he wants something.”
Throughout our time together, Mrs. Barnett mentioned family members and friends who’d disappointed her, who had not lived up to her expectations and who had not given her the love she “deserved.” The more I listened, the clearer the picture became in my mind.
I envisioned Mrs. Barnett with a stack of scorecards. At the top of each card was a name: a child, a friend, a pastor, and yes, even one with my name printed across the top. If someone telephoned her, they got 1 point. If they stopped by for a visit, they got 1 point. If they gave her a hug without being asked, they got 1 point. If they told her she looked pretty, they got 2 points.
However, if they didn’t show the proper display of affection, they lost 5 points. If they didn’t come visit within the expected amount of time, they lost 5 points. Didn’t send a card on the appropriate days? Another 5 points gone. Birthdays, Christmas gifts, phone calls, visits, etc., were all tallied on mental scorecards.
I shook my head to clear my mind and tried to pay attention to our conversation. After all, I didn’t want to get a bad mark on my scorecard.
That day I realized a valuable life lesson. As long as this woman keeps mental scorecards on the people in her life, she is going to be miserable. And if you or I keep scorecards for the people in our lives, we’ll be miserable as well.
First Corinthians 13 says, “Love is patient, love is kind … it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs” (1 Corinthians 13:4a, 5b). Love is about giving — not necessarily money or gifts — but love. Love doesn’t keep a record of wrongs or perceived offenses. It doesn’t involve scorecards of plusses and minuses. It does not keep a running list of kindnesses to reward those who come out on top (and shun those who do not).
Self-centeredness says, “What has that person done for me lately?” Love says, “What can I do for that person today?”
Self-centeredness makes mental lists of how others have disappointed them. Love makes mental lists of ways they can bless others.
Self-centeredness withholds affection and approval from those who don’t deserve it. Love gives affection unconditionally because none of us do deserve it.
Self-centeredness says, “Come here and give me a hug.” Love says, “Come here and let me hug you.” Can you tell the difference? A 10-year-old certainly can. He or she might not be able to verbalize the difference or even recognize it, but they certainly feel the difference in the pit of their stomachs and in the tenderness of their hearts.
With genuine love, there are no scorecards. I’m certainly glad God tore up mine long ago.
King David wrote, “If you, LORD, kept a record of sins, LORD, who could stand?” (Psalm 130:3, NIV). Certainly, I couldn’t!
If God doesn’t keep a scorecard — making notes of the ways I have offended Him, disappointed Him or not given Him the attention He deserves — then why should I keep scorecards on the people in my little world? Let’s tear up those scorecards and begin loving as God loves us.
Dear Lord, I’m no longer keeping a scorecard for ____________. Help me love like You love — unconditionally, no strings attached. Whenever I fall into the old habit of scoring how someone did not live up to my expectations, convict me quickly, and help me replace the negative thoughts with a prayer of thanksgiving. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
1 Peter 3:9, “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.” (NIV)
If you’ve ever kept scorecards on yourself and come up lacking … if you've ever felt that you’re just not enough, check out Sharon Jaynes’ latest book, Enough: Silencing the Lies that Steal Your Confidence. It’s time to stop listening to the lies that sabotage your confidence and replace them with God's Truth. You are enough!
If you'd like a free downloadable of Sharon’s 1 Corinthians 13 Christmas, stop by sharonjaynes.com and click on Free Resources in the menu bar!
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Today’s Reflect and Respond is more of an activity. Get a stack of index cards. At the top of each card, write one name of someone you might be keeping a scorecard for. Start with children, grandchildren, parents, in-laws, your spouse, your siblings and your pastor. Then your friends. Beside each name, write the words, “Scorecard.” For example: Beth’s Scorecard. Then pray today’s prayer, tear up the scorecards and throw them in the trash. Now doesn’t that feel good?
Are you willing to tear up the scorecards for the people in your life? Is so, leave a comment, and say, I'm willing!
© 2018 by Sharon Jaynes. All rights reserved.