When it comes to relationships, how are you at keeping score? More to the point, how do you think God is at keeping score? Humanly speaking, we all have the potential to be expert players at the game of “tit for tat.” Yet the Bible warns against score keeping in our relationships because doing so taints our motives:
What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. (James 4:1,2)
While there is a human tendency that pictures God as a sort of giant score keeper in the sky, nothing could be further from the truth! Jesus challenged the thinking of His disciples (then and now) in Luke 6 as He established what truly counts in the heavenly realms:
“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full.” (vs.32-34)
Three times the question is asked, “What credit is that to you?” for doing something “even sinners” do. The answer . . . NONE! Certainly we benefit from doing what is right, but expecting extra credit is downright silly. God is far more interested in our spiritual growth and character reflecting His goodness; He very generously rewards us when we integrate Jesus’ teaching in our more difficult (seemingly impossible) relationships:
But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because He is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. (vs 35, 36)
True followers of Jesus aim to emulate Him as He reflected His Father. Our actions should reflect what He so graciously has granted each of us: Kindness and Mercy.
In my last post I shared a verse from Galatians 5 that I find particularly inspiring: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free, stand firm then and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (vs.1) Actually, the entire chapter would be well worth memorizing as it clarifies what truly counts in the mind and heart of our Creator when it comes to relationships. Consider verse 6:
“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.”
When the Apostle Paul wrote to his friends in Galatia false teachers had infiltrated the church. The lie that many had embraced was that circumcision, in addition to Christ, was necessary to secure their salvation. Sick and angry at the awfulness of what was being embraced Paul’s outrage was plainly expressed when he wrote, “As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves!” (v.12)
It is entirely appropriate to hate sin, but where we think in terms of keeping score God watches and waits to see the motives of our hearts demonstrate His Love, His Kindness and His Mercy to a dark and needy world. I must confess that it is more than a little tempting to dish back to the world what has been given. But if we are bent on reflecting what truly counts in the heavenly realms, we will demonstrate our faith in the One who has saved us by looking for ways to love our neighbor as Christ has loved us. Whatever you may be facing today, resist the temptation to dish back what has been given. Instead, prayerfully choose to delight God’s heart by demonstrating His love and forgiveness today.
All to His Glory!