The Danger of Keeping Score (and the awesome freedom of forgiveness)

“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)

My memories of grade school are not pleasant - several of the “popular” kids in my class picked on me regularly and targeted me for their ridicule; to this day if I stop to recall those days I still get tears in my eyes - it hurts. Years later I would experience even deeper wounds at Bible college as I wrestled with my sexual identity. For almost a decade I ran away from Jesus and embraced the darkness, until in 2004 I stopped running and let Jesus find me again.

During my years in the wilderness I held on tight to anger, bitterness, and unforgiveness, blaming my parents, Pella, the church, and Bible school for my problems. Deep down inside I think I always knew the truth; in 2003 I wasn’t walking with Jesus yet, but I was occasionally going to a solid, Bible-preaching church in San Francisco. One morning the pastor preached a sermon on forgiveness, using the life of Joseph as an example. Then he told the story of Corrie Ten Boom from “The Hiding Place;” how one day in Germany after sharing her testimony one of the guards from the concentration camp where her beloved sister had died approached her, declaring his newfound faith in Christ and asking for forgiveness. At first Corrie couldn’t; then she asked for God’s help and found the strength to not only forgive the man, but also love him as Christ did. A deep sense of curiosity and wonder was awakened deep in my soul, and I quietly asked myself, “Could this really be true? Can I really forgive and let go of this burden?”

In early 2004 one of my new Christian friends connected me with a small group at his local church; I quickly became close friends with Andrew, the group leader. He knew a bit of my story by then, and asked me to share about the hurt I’d experienced during Bible School with our group. As I did, all the pain, anger, and bitterness bubbled up to the surface, and in that moment, surrounded and supported by my brothers and sisters in Christ, I surrendered the pain, hurt, and anger to the Lord and found the strength to forgive those who had hurt me and bless them as well. I don’t recall ever crying so hard in my entire life! (I get choked up even now writing about it) I felt like a burden of a million pounds had lifted from my shoulders - and my heart.

My devotional for today comes from Proverbs 31 Ministries and is titled “The Danger of Keeping Score.” The author shares a heartbreaking conversation she had with an older woman whose head was filled with a mental scorecard of all the perceived wrongs her family had inflicted over the years. The author made this observation: 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.

So true - but it goes deeper than that. In the Gospels Jesus says that if we don’t forgive others, our Heavenly Father won’t forgive us. I loved this statement: With genuine love, there are no scorecards. I’m certainly glad God tore up mine long ago.

Do you have a mental scorecard tucked away in your head with all the wrongs that have been done against you? Maybe it’s time to surrender that card to Jesus and get rid of it for good.