At this very moment, you may be thinking of a recent game you watched where the score came down to the last minute or second. Often athletic enthusiasts will be found jumping up and down at those last-minute events in joy or in despair. Scorekeeping and winning seems to be very important in our culture.
In fact, you could say that we are obsessed with scorekeeping. Especially numbers that contribute to progress, accumulation, and ultimately self-esteem. Think of all the scores we keep:
• School grades
• I.Q. scores
• Athletic contests
• Credit scores
• Academic degrees
• Income levels
• Professional awards
• Personal possessions
Why We Keep Score
We keep scores for lots of reasons—many of them are good. We keep track of the number of people that have been reached with the Gospel. We keep an account of the amount of aid given to disaster victims. We keep the needs of those around us in our mind so that we can be sure to reach out and help those who are less fortunate.
But sometimes we keep score for less noble reasons.
Let’s face it: We live in a world where people expect to be rewarded for points scored.
There’s something in us that thinks the higher our “score” in life, the more good things we deserve. But in the spiritual realm, this has deadly implications.
The Bad Scorekeeping News
When Jesus began preaching the values of the Kingdom of God, scorekeeping wasn’t one of them. But He found that keeping score was a high value among the people who claimed to know God best—the children of Israel.
For instance, in Matthew 23, Jesus notes the myriad ways in which the Pharisees kept score: the size of the tassels on their garments (verse 5), how near the front they were seated at banquets and in the synagogue (verse 6), how often they were recognized and greeted as “Rabbi” in the marketplace (verse 7), how many herb seeds they tithed (verse 23), and how clean their dishes were (verse 25). If it could be counted, measured, or scored, the Pharisees figured out a way to do it.
But they were scoring things that didn’t matter to God. Jesus told them that God was concerned about justice, mercy, and faith (verse 23). And no one could wipe away the “zero” score in the most important column: personal sinlessness. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
So much for our scorekeeping to gain favor with God! We’ve all sinned. Therefore, our lifetime score when it comes to impressing God with our goodness is “zero.”
The Good Scorekeeping News
Just as the Gospel suggests, there is good news:
First, God does not give us what we deserve. Even though we are undeserving, God has exercised mercy toward us. “God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us” (Ephesians 2:4), has not given us what we deserve.
Second, God has given us gifts that we do not deserve. We don’t deserve any of God’s blessings, yet God has extended His grace toward us: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8).
Third, only one Person lived a perfect life, and had a perfect score during His life on earth, Jesus of Nazareth (Hebrews 4:15; 7:26). He did an amazing thing: He exchanged scores with us. He took upon Himself our sin and shame and credited us with His perfect and sinless life (2 Corinthians 5:21). He took upon Himself what we deserved—death on a cross—and in turn by faith we receive acceptance by God and eternal life with Him.
What God Deserves
When we examine what God has done for us, there is only one thing for us to do: Thank God and praise Him for His love and grace. Stop keeping score! The only perfect life that matters belongs to Jesus, and He deserves all our praise!
David Jeremiah is the senior pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, California, and the founder and host of Turning Point for God. For more information about Dr. Jeremiah or Turning Point, visit www.DavidJeremiah.org.
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