The score-keeping life is the way that leads to death. God’s generosity leads to life. God says here, “I will forgive their iniquity and remember their sin no more.” No more keeping a record of sin, a list of wrongdoings. No more keeping score. No big scoreboard in the sky displays God: 10 and Me: 0.
Yet, as humans, we tend to keep score. We keep track of good and bad deeds, of what we think we and others deserve. I have a running joke with my husband. On occasions when he does something especially thoughtful, I accuse him of trying to get more points than me “on the big scoreboard in the sky.” It’s my way of reminding myself that no such thing exists; there is no secret competition going on where I’m always behind. I want to receive kindness without feeling an obligation to stay “even” or to suspect that the other person is racking up merit points for the win.
This scoreboard mentality can subtly accompany our loving acts toward others. When I reach out to a friend in distress or remember someone’s birthday, I’m tempted to expect them to do the same in return—keeping score. No wonder we project the same behavior onto God, expecting God to keep score too—like Santa Claus with a list of who is naughty and who is nice.
God’s overflowing heart offers a new covenant, built upon God’s faithfulness and written on our hearts. We can stop trying to figure out what we or others deserve. God’s love doesn’t keep score. Thanks be to God!
Free us from the bondage of score keeping in our lives, with others and with you, O Lord. Hold us in the wideness of your mercy and love. Amen.
We can maintain outward appearances for only so long. At some point what is in our hearts will come to the surface. God understands this, of course, which is the reason for the promise in Jeremiah. God promises a day when God’s law will no longer be an external standard that we are trying to follow, but will be written on our hearts. In the aftermath of his sin with Bathsheba, David cries out in Psalm 51 for God’s forgiveness and a new heart. The New Testament readings begin to focus our minds toward the end of Jesus’ life. God’s transformative work comes at a cost to God through the death of his Son, who suffered in obedience but through his death was glorified.
• Read Jeremiah 31:31-34. In what areas of your life do you find yourself keeping score? How can you release that tendency?
• Read Psalm 51:1-12. What clutters your heart, making it unavailable for love?
• Read Hebrews 5:5-10. When have you fallen into the habit of faith rather than exhibiting authentic faith? What distinction do you draw between the two?
• Read John 12:20-33. How does the author’s illustration of the seed and flower help you understand Jesus’ crucifixion and death?
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