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On keeping track

September 21, 2012

A few days ago a milestone was passed in Major League Baseball – the 500,000th error was committed.  One thing you have to love about baseball, it is a sport that is big on statistics.  You can find detailed box scores of games dating back to the 1880s.  There is no other sport that is so obsessed with record keeping.  You really have to love a game that keeps such meticulous track of its mistakes.  As it happens Jose Reyes, the shortstop for the Miami Marlins, will go down in history as the hapless guy who set the record with a rather routine muff that had no consequence at all in a game his team eventually won.

The complete inconsequence of the actual record-setting error is interesting in that it brings to the fore the reality that not all errors are created equal.  Some, like the record-setting one, have no impact on the game in progress and are forgotten by all within hours if not minutes.  Others cost the team runs, still others cost the team a game.  In 1986, an error by Boston Red Sox first baseman Bill Buckner cost the Sox the final out that would have secured a World Series victory and the Sox went on to lose not only the game but the World Series.

But to the record keepers an error is an error.  A meaningless error committed somewhere in the mists of baseball’s past counts the same as Buckner’s.  Errors 499,999 and 500,001, probably now forgotten by everyone, count the same as the one that will put Reyes in the record books for all time.

Most of us look at sins in much the same way.  We commit them, maybe even lots of them, but we keep a record of how “serious” they are.  It’s sort of like “OK, I did it and I shouldn’t have, but no harm was done.”  We tend to think of sins in terms of consequence.  And some sins have more consequence in our lives than others.  I can say a cross world to my wife and, in grace, she forgives and forgets it.  Jerry Sandusky ruins lives of young boys with his sin and the repercussions are widespread and devastating. 

But sometimes we approach our sins, or those done to us, with a record-keeper mentality too.  We can let guilt or resentment rule our lives.  I have a friend who is able even today to give a detailed account of a sin someone committed that hurt him back in 1976.  1976!  There are some things in my past that, when I recall them, still bring me guilt feelings – if I let them. 

In some ways a record-keeping mentality with my own sins is not a bad thing.  I do want to remember them, do want them to be warning for me in the future.  But I am grateful that God doesn’t take a record-keeper mentality to my sins.  When He says He will remember my sins no more He is not claiming amnesia, just stating that it is not about record-keeping and that His love stays the same.

Grace gives another opportunity with sin record-keeping too.  How cool is it when someone who has wronged you in the past comes before you and you realize that that wrong doesn’t matter to you any more?  How cool is it to feel forgiveness?  Even more, how cool is it to be the one who tears up the record of sins done to you?

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From → Christianity

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