Keeping Track

There is a tradition we have in our family, and I imagine you do, too. It is the keeping track tradition.

Someone sends me a birthday card. Better send them one back.

We were invited to their house for dinner. Now we have to invite them to ours.

Who treated last time for dinner out?

In accounting, we call this reconciliation. A bank reconciliation is making sure the numbers balance out. How much do we say we have? How much does the bank say we have? Figure out the differences and come to a balance.

We keep track.

Are you keeping track?

Jesus speaks of forgiveness, not as keeping track, but forgiving and letting go of records.

For when God forgives us, as one person said, it’s like God throws our sins into the sea and posts a sign that says “No Fishing!”

We come before God each week in worship and ask God to forgive us of the things we have done and left undone. We place them before God. And we are told that we are forgiven. We are told that God isn’t keeping track.

So why are we?

Luke 17:1-4


Jesus said to his disciples, “Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to anyone by whom they come! It would be better for you if a millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea than for you to cause one of these little ones to stumble. Be on your guard! If another disciple sins, you must rebuke the offender, and if there is repentance, you must forgive. And if the same person sins against you seven times a day, and turns back to you seven times and says, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive.”

How often do we leave worship and pick up that load that has been forgiven and carry it another week, or month, or…?

A couple of days ago, I told you a story from Tony Campolo, an American sociologist, pastor, author and public speaker. He spoke at the ELCA Youth Gatherings in 1991 and 1994. Here’s another story told by Tony at the ELCA Youth Gathering in Dallas in 1991. As I remember it, Campolo said that his image of heaven is we are taken to a large theater and seated in the front row. On the screen in front of us will be a movie of everything we had done wrong, and the things that we failed to do…

The theater is empty, except for your mother, who is seated next to you.

But here is the good news. Because of Jesus Christ, the tape has been erased (Ask your parents about Richard Nixon’s secretary!).

God has erased the tape.

Sins are forgiven and forgotten.

As we have been forgiven, may we so forgive. I think there’s something in the Lord’s Prayer about this!

God stopped keeping track. May we do the same.


Let us pray:

Lord, forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. Help us to accept the gift of your forgiveness and live in the good news that we are your beloved. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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