Love is patient, love is kind…it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no records of wrongs, (1 Corinthians 13:4-5, NIV).
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 several family members and friends who had 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 a picture began to take shape in my mind.
I envisioned Mrs. Barnett with a big stack of scorecards. At the top of each card was a name: a grandchild, a child, a friend, a pastor, and yes, even one with my name printed across the top. If someone telephoned her, they got 1point. 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 did not show the proper display of affection, they lost 5 points. If they did not come by for a visit within the expected amount of time, they lost 5 points. If they did not send her a card on the appropriate days, they lost 5 points. Birthday cards, Christmas gifts, phone calls, visits, etc, were all tallied on mental scorecards for later retrieval. She was very busy keeping track of all the plusses and minuses for each person.
I shook my head to clear away the movie being played in the theater of 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.
Friend, let me tell you a great 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 will 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 records of wrongs,” (1 Corinthians 13:4-5).
Love is about giving – not necessarily about giving money or gifts, but giving love. Can I say that again? Love is about giving love. Love does not keep arecord of wrongs or perceived wrongs. It does not involve an accounting tally sheet of debits and credits or 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 ten-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.
David wrote, “If you, O LORD, kept a record of sin, O Lord, who could stand?” (Psalm 130:3 NIV). Certainly not me!
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 do I think I have the right to keep scorecards on the people in my little world? He doesn’t give plusses and minuses and then tally up our cards to see whether or not we deserve His love. So why do we do it to others? God gives and gives and gives, and gets very little in return. Why does He do that? Because He loves you and me perfectly, wholly, and unconditionally.
Scorecards. Do you keep them? Do you keep mental lists of what people do and don’t do to deserve your love? If so, you’ll never be content or at peace in your relationships. No one may see the scorecards sitting on your coffee table, but they’ll know they are there. They will see them in your eyes, hear them in your tone, and sense them in your touch. And there may be a few brave souls who refuse to play the game and decide to bow out of your life altogether.
Here is what I would like to suggest. Tear up the scorecards. Here’s how:
Get a stack of index cards. Write one person’s name at the top of each card. Start with your children, your grandchildren, your parents, your in-laws, your spouse, your siblings, your pastor. Then move on to your circle of friends. Beside each name, write the words, “Scorecard.” For example: Beth’s Scorecard.
Hold the stack of scorecards in your hand and pray:
“Dear Lord, I am no longer going to keep a scorecard for ____________. Help me love like You love – unconditionally, with no strings attached. Help me to be thankful for the attention I do receive rather than resentful for what I don’t. I do not want to become a bitter old woman that people avoid, but a grateful, graceful lady people enjoy. And Lord, whenever I begin to fall into the old habit of making mental notes of how someone did not live up to my expectations, I pray that You will convict me quickly and help me to replace the negative thoughts with a prayer of thanksgiving. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
After you have prayed, take each scorecard in your hands and tear it into tiny pieces. Now, throw them away. Be free. Be blessed. Enjoy life.
If you actually did this exercise, I’d love to hear about it. Leave a comment and say, I did it!
One of the ways we build relationships or destroy relationships is with the words we speak. Words can make or break a marriage, encourage or discourage a child, draw in or push away a friend. If you would like to tame your tongue and learn how to use your words to speak life into those in your sphere of influence, check out my book, The Power of a Woman’s Words and accompanying study guide. It is a favorite for Women’s Bible studies and small groups.
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us” (2 Corinthains 4:7 NIV).
The speaker came out onto the stage. He pulled out a one-hundred dollar bill.
“Who would like this one-hundred dollar bill?” he asked.
Hands shot up all around the room.
Then he crumpled the paper, threw it on the floor and ground the dirt into it with his foot. Holding up the dirty, crumpled and tattered money, he then asked, “Now, who wants this one-hundred dollar bill?”
The same hands went into the air.
“And that is why God still wants you,” he continued. “You may be battered and bruised. You may be tattered and torn. You may be crumpled and creased. But that does not change your value to God any more than what I have done changes the value of this one-hundred dollar bill. You are still precious and valuable to the God who chose you, redeemed you, and loves you as His own.”“He knows how we are formed; he remembers that we are dust” (Psalm 103:14). God understands that we are fatally flawed creatures, yet deems us immeasurably valuable no matter how crumpled and soiled we are.
Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us” (2 Corinthians 4:7). In Paul’s day, it was customary to store treasure in clay jars. The common container disguised its contents and didn’t draw attention to the treasure within. You and I might not look like much on the outside. We may appear as common as jars of clay, but inside are hidden incredible treasures. Inside these old cracked pots reside the most incredible treasure of all…Jesus Christ. And that makes us valuable.
In Louisa May Alcott’s book, Little Women, she includes a conversation from Mrs. March to her three girls, Meg, Jo, and Amy. “I only care what you think of yourself. If you feel your value lies in being merely decorative, I fear that someday you might find yourself believing that’s all you really are. Time erodes all such beauty. But what it cannot diminish is the wonderful workings of your mind – your humor, your kindness, and your moral courage. These are things I so cherish in you.”
Our culture places an ungodly amount of significance on a woman’s appearance. Outward trappings of appearance are simply that…trappings. But God sees us as simple jars of clay containing valuable treasure…and that makes us beautiful to Him.
Dear Lord, even though I am battered and bruised, I know that I am still valuable to You. Thank You for loving me so much that You sent Your Son, Jesus, to die for my sins. Thank You for making a way for me to have eternal life through Jesus’ sacrifice. Thank You for seeing me as Your priceless treasure. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
What Do You Think?
Don’t you love the teacher’s illustration of the crumpled dollar bill? Today, consider using that illustration with a friend or a child who feels knocked down by life.
Did the illustration touch you in a particular way? If so, I’d love to hear about it. You can share your thoughts on my blog page at www.sharonjaynes.com. I’m going to randomly pick 5 commenters and give away a compact mirror with 2 Corinthians 5:17 imprinted on the cover.
Today’s devotion was taken from my book, I’m Not Good Enough and Other Lies Women Tell Themselves. If you feel battered and bruised by life, if you have been believing lies that you are worthless, then join me in learning to see yourself as God sees you – a chosen, valuable, dearly loved child of the King.
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“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness,” (1 John 1:9 NIV).
An email comes to me hundreds of times every year. The names are different, the situations are varied, but the underlying theme is the same…I can’t forgive myself. Grace just doesn’t make sense. I don’t deserve to be forgiven.
And these women are right…grace doesn’t make earthly sense. We don’t deserve it. We keep reliving the Garden story with ingratitude and believing Satan’s lie, and then grace shows up with an outstretched hand. “I don’t deserve it,” we cry. And we’re right. Grace, by its very definition, is unmerited favor from God or a gift we don’t deserve. But until we accept God’s grace and forgiveness, Satan will hold us in the vise grip of guilt, and we will miss moments of sudden glory as we hide in Eden’s bushes of shame.
After King David’s affair with Bathsheba, he was held in the shackles of guilt, unsure if he could ever be set free. But mercy came with the key of forgiveness and flung the prison door open wide. David then had to take the necessary steps to walk out of the prison and into the kingdom of grace.
No matter what you have done, God has made a way for you to be set free—a very costly toll has been paid for the road to your restoration. Jesus gave His life that you might have not only eternal life after physical death, but life filled with moments of sudden glory beginning at your spiritual birth.
I in no way want to diminish the seriousness of sin. Neither do I want to lessen the truth of grace. Refusal of the Christian to repent and dogged determination to continue a lifestyle of sin spits in the face of what Christ did on the cross. Unconfessed sin draws the shade on God’s glory. Confession with repentance raises the curtain once again for God’s glory to shine through.
When we say, “I don’t feel forgiven,” that is like saying that what Jesus did on the cross is not enough. Why should we require more from ourselves than our Creator requires of us? “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus….” (Romans 8:1). None. God’s grace river washes away the devil dams of shame and condemnation that block the flow of the glory life.
If you are feeling condemnation for past sins that you have already asked God to forgive, that condemnation is not coming from God. Once you have repented and asked God to forgive you, it is finished, over and done with, wiped away. If feelings of condemnation persist, they are a result of listening to the accusations of the enemy as he tries to keep you behind those bushes and away from union and communion with God. Believe the truth. Walk in the truth, and it will lead you to moments of sudden glory all around. Without accepting God’s grace gift, in Him we live and move and have our being will be nigh to impossible to become a reality in your life. A life saturated in grace makes it so.
Satan knows that the slightest whisper of guilt is easily received by a fragile heart plundered by life. Do not let him convince you to remain in hiding. If you have been crouching in Eden’s bushes of shame, listen closely. That sound you hear is God walking your way. Whispering your name. Do you hear it? Singing love songs of grace. Inviting you to stroll with Him in the garden of your heart where He has taken up permanent residence.
Where are you? I want to commune with you. I want to show you glimpses of my glory. Where are you?
I hope you will say with me… “Here I am Lord. ‘Come, Thou Fount of ev’ry blessing. Tune my heart to sing Thy grace.’”
If you are having trouble forgiving yourself, then pray this prayer…
Dear Lord, I come before You today, confessing______________. I am truly repentant and sorry for my sin against You. I ask that You forgive me and cleanse me. Right now, I receive Your grace and forgiveness. I believe that You have forgiven me and will no longer hold my sin against me. I accept the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross for my sin and thank You that my debt has been paid in full. Thank You God for forgiving me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Now, dear one, I want you to picture your sin nailed to the cross. It is finished. Don’t let Satan try to convince you otherwise. And believe me, he will. Satan is called “the accuser” who accuses Christians day and night (Revelations 12:10). I picture him walking back and forth with our mug shots before the throne of God, saying “look at her! She’s guilty as sin!” And in response our Heavenly Father says, “I know her. She’s my precious child whom I love! Her sentence has already been taken care of. She’s forever forgiven and free.”
Now It’s Your Turn
I don’t want to give you any extra work today. You’ve got a lot to think about. But I do want you to write down Jesus’ last words on the cross (John 19:30) and say them often throughout the day.
If you prayed the above prayer for yourself today, I want you to let me know. Click over to my blog page at www.sharonjaynes.com or my Facebook page at www.facebook.com/sharonjaynes and say, “It is finished.”
Today’s devotion came from my book, A Sudden Glory: God’s Lavish Response to Your Ache for Something More. God wants to commune with you, but sometimes we hide in shame like Adam and Eve in the bushes. God asks… “Where are you?” He knows what you’ve done and He still pursues a relationship with you. Are you ready to come out of hiding? Perhaps reading A Sudden Glory is a great place to start.
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