Keeping Score, Giving Grace


Shortly before entering Jerusalem for his death march, Jesus offered a parable that highlights the long-suffering of our heavenly Father. It is the story of a vineyard owner who early in the day hires workers for a set amount of pay. As the day progresses and his need for help increases, the vineyard owner hires still more workers. When the day’s end has come, and it is time to pay the workers, he directs his foreman to ‘Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first’ (Matthew 20:8). As you may recall, each worker is paid the same amount, creating quite a stir among those hired early that worked more hours. Responding to their claim that the he was being unfair to them by paying those hired later the same amount as those who had worked all day, the vineyard owner says, ‘Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’ (20:15).

Which raises an important question: Am I a grace-giver (like the vineyard owner) or a scorekeeper (like the laborers hired early)? Which one are you?

A scorekeeper keeps track of that to which he thinks he’s entitled. A scorekeeper pays a lot of attention to what others are receiving. A scorekeeper weighs these things to see if there has been any perceived injustice. Heaven forbid that the scorekeeper not concern himself with towing the line, earning the goods and making sure everyone else is likewise following his lead. Scorekeepers are the gatekeepers of legalism. Think Pharisee!

The grace-giver thinks differently. The grace-giver is not concerned about keeping score. The grace-giver is not worried about how he will be perceived if he strays from another’s spiritually nervous convictions. The grace-giver offers things—anything—somewhat unconditionally, with a view toward generosity and with a desire to diminish any sense of expectation from those to whom he gives. Grace-givers are emulators of the Father who gave His best—His only begotten Son—out of love and mercy. Think Jesus!

So, are you a grace-giver or a scorekeeper? One way to discern the answer is to measure the length faces you see everyday in your world. If they are long and weary and etched with dismay, you may be a scorekeeper, indeed, a grace killer. If, however, they are bright and liberated then you may well be like the vineyard owner who gives generously.

Just think about it.


  1. Pastor Bob says:

    Lord Jesus, make me a grace-giver. My nature makes it so natural and easy to become a score-keeper. I need You, Lord, to change my heart and mind into thinking and acting as You. Thank You that I can be a giver of grace empowered by Your Spirit. What a world this would be if all of Your children would give up score-keeping. Thank You, Lord. In Your Name, Amen.

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