Several years ago, I was having a conversation with someone about getting credit for ideas. I mentioned to them that it doesn’t matter to me if I get credit for an idea or not, because God knows who did what and I was content to let God handle such things. This person then wondered whether or not God really credited man with such things. In essence, the question can be framed, “Does God keep score?”
First, we need to understand that God does not keep score in the sense that if we could only get enough points, then we would win salvation. The Bible teaches us that salvation isn’t something that we earn. Jesus said in Luke 17:10, “So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.” When we do everything that God tells us, we still haven’t earned our salvation. We are still dependent upon Him for eternal life. Salvation is a gift that God gives upon the condition of faith and obedience (see Hebrews 11:6 and Hebrews 5:9). Neither our faith nor our obedience earns our salvation; but God promises to give us salvation when we trust and obey Him. It is the promise of God in which we trust, not in our own faith or obedience. In that regard, God doesn’t keep score because no matter how high a score we get, we’ll never be high enough to earn our salvation.
Second, neither does God keep score as to how long we have been a faithful Christian as if that would make a difference in our salvation. Jesus told the parable of the “Laborers in the Vineyard” in Matthew 20:1-16. In the parable, the vineyard owner agrees with laborers for the same wage though they begin working at different times in the day. At the end of the day, they all get the same pay. The ones who started early complain, saying that they worked longer than the others. The owner asks them whether or not they agreed to that pay. They did, so that is what they got. The lesson from the parable is that salvation is available for all and it doesn’t matter when you started working for God, everyone, whether young or old gets the same pay—eternal life and for that we ought to be very thankful. No, God does not keep score in regard to one’s longevity of service in His kingdom.
Third, there is a sense, however, in which God does keep score. In Hebrews 6:10 we read, “For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.” We learn from this passage that God takes note of those who do good things and He remembers those things. Moreoever, Jesus said, “But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal” (Matthew 6:20). What are these treasures that we are to be laying up in heaven? He explains in Luke 12:33, “Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth.” When we do good things for others, we lay up treasures in heaven. Are they for earning our salvation? No. What then are these treasures for? There is only one explanation. It is because God wants us to appreciate the results of the good things that we did once we are in heaven. That will be our treasure!
Does God keep score? He doesn’t keep score when it comes to good works meriting salvation. Regardless of how high the score, it would never be enough to earn salvation. However, He does keep score when it comes to having treasure in heaven over which we can appreciate the results of our good efforts. And so John can write, “Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward” (2 John 1:8). God doesn’t keep score to determine who earned what, but to determine who IS what!