Making the Count

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“Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.”  Galatians 3:6

God, You are an “accountant,”  and You call us all to be “accountants” in You.  But thankfully, we’re not talking about the “mathematical” kind of accountant here.  But it’s because of Your accounting that Abraham came to account things rightly which is what believing is all about.

To understand Your system of accounting, Your counting system, Lord, Your value system, You’re telling me I need to understand Abraham’s belief in You.   But then again, understanding Your accounting system will help me to know what You esteemed as belief and what belief looks like to You.  So I need to hop back to that word, “accounted,” and take a deeper look.

This word “accounted” is the Greek word “logizomai.”  Skip Moen tells us “[it] literally means, ‘to put together with one’s mind, to count, to occupy oneself with reasoning and calculation.'”  It also means “to have completely certain knowledge.”  It’s no longer “a matter of opinion.”  It is considered a certainty.

So why would You consider Abraham’s faith a “done deal”?  Why would You count all his ABC’s and 123s to be where they needed to be and all accounted for, exactly as they ought to line up?  You know, I was thinking about Abraham this morning.  He didn’t even have the ten commandments.  He didn’t have any written Scripture yet.  But, as You looked at the things that counted in his life toward belief, he had and was doing everything that counted to You.  How could he know without a set of rules?

Well, Lord, You were re-educating Abraham.  I mean the culture of Ur, his homeland, was way different than Your culture.  But he listened to Your voice.  What does that mean?  When he was in Ur and You spoke and told him to leave and go where You directed, did he hear those words and sit down and meditate on them for years deciding what You really meant by them?  Or did he leave Ur and follow You even when he didn’t understand it all?  Was his listening and hearing partnered with immediate obedience?

Here’s a man that has probably never heard any of his relatives ever tell him the stories of God in the past.  Here’s a man who came from a land of idol worship.  But when he hears the voice of God, of You, he knows who You are.  He follows.  Immediately.  That’s amazing, that immediate obedience.

Now, what about us?  In my culture, many of us have been reading and hearing God’s word since we were little.  So we’ve got so much more basis to obey than Abraham ever did.  But somehow, it seems we are still in the stage of listening and hashing out and determining and investigating and the many other names we give it and somehow we miss out the most important part of hearing–obeying.  When Scripture says that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God it means that the truth comes through the word of God and our hearing must lead to doing that which we hear, obeying.

It’s one thing to say I must forgive, but it’s another to forgive someone.  It’s one thing to say I would follow You wherever You lead, but it’s another to move out of my comfort zone and truly follow You.  It’s one thing to know I should pray, but it’s another to practically learn how to pray the way You want me to by making it an integral part of my being.  It’s one thing to hear about sacrifice and taking up my cross, but it’s another thing to stop choosing my cross and my sacrifices and to actually offer that which is asked and required.  It’s so easy to point fingers when we don’t stop to really count things the way You are counting them.  When my accounting system is set up on my standards I don’t even see that I’m more like Cain than I am like Abraham.  But that’s the wonderful thing about lining up with Your accounting system.  I don’t have to remain like Cain, doing my own accounting, I can adopt Your accounting system and Your countenance and Your delight instead.

Abraham was relearning what really counted, first hand from You, God.  He didn’t have to be perfect.  Thank goodness.  He was only called to be faithful to those things which You made known to him.  You said follow.  He heard and he followed.  Now, we have even more to go by than what Abraham had.  Your voice continues to speak to us and You especially use Your written word.  Look at Philippians 4:8 where You are re-educating us about what counts to You, and what should therefore count to us.  “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things.”

See, these things are Hebraicly known as “practicing hesed (comapassionate acts).”  It’s because this is a reflection of the character of You, God, Yourself.  So to listen to You is to count what You count as important.  If “practicing hesed” is counted important to You, then it ought to be of the utmost importance to me.   If You reckon it important, I ought to reckon it important.  Your measuring cup, Your balance scale, Your measure of value, Your evaluation, Your estimate of worth is the only scorecard that measures up.  Are my numbers matching Yours?  Because Your numbers are the only numbers that count.  But this isn’t just a number system I can retain in my head.  I have to “practice hesed” and practice obedience, and practice faith or it’s not faith at all.  I have to live it out or it’s dead, you know, faith without works is dead.

James tells us to “ prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.” Now I’m going to just share Skip Moen’s thoughts here.  “If you don’t put into practice what you are taught, you are doing nothing more than telling yourself lies.  The gap between knowing and doing is far greater than the gap between ignorance and knowledge.  We have plenty of information.  Our problem is doing something with what we know…In the Bible, delusion is not about being mentally ignorant.  Delusion is about not doing what you already know.  Do you see the difference?  The Bible is about obedience, not about collecting more information.  In fact, God says that unless we obey what He has already revealed to us, we just won’t understand one more thing.  Spiritual knowledge is the result of being a doer, not the result of being a good listener.  In fact, the only ‘good’ listener is the one who acts on what he hears.”

Speaking of this hearing, the word “paralogizomai” is the Greek word used for “delude.”  Now, isn’t that interesting that “logizomai” is part of that word.  So there is a right way to take an account and a wrong way.  The right way is to involve Your life in that accounting.  The wrong way is to just stand beside what You know and not take action on it.  See, that “paralogizomai” means  “reason alongside itself”.   It’s like having reason but not using it.  “It is reason that misleads.  Instead of taking me toward the truth, it directs me toward error.  But notice the connection.  If I want my mind to guide me toward truth, I must act on what I know now.  I can’t wait until I have finished the theology of the world before I take action.  If I don’t do something with what I know now, I’ll never finish the book at all.” (Skip Moen)

Did you know that “consider” is another use of “logizomai”?  Consider the cost.  Count the cost?  It’s not just a good idea, it’s life, I mean real LIFE.  See, I consider life outside of Christ and I consider life in Christ and there is absolutely no comparison.  The measuring cup for the life outside of Christ is a shattered mess.  The more I obey, even when it’s really hard, even when no one understands, even when I have to give up things I value, the more valuable Your counting system becomes to me, Lord.  The things I once held valuable just pale in comparison to You.  I consider differently now.  I consider more like You, but like Abraham, not perfectly, but considering more like You every day with every decision and every actual step of faith I take.

So, I guess, like Abraham and like Paul and like so many others all over the world and throughout time “… I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” (Romans 8:18)  We’re counting the cost Your way, and finding it more than worth the obedience and the risks no matter what the world says, because we know what we have to look forward to–YOU!  Thanks, Abraham, for encouraging me in the Lord today.  Thanks, Lord, for showing me how I can be covered in You and counted righteous in Your eyes.  You are so worth lining myself up with and I can’t think of anyone I want to walk with more.

Now I can’t help it, but Skip said it so well again so here I am, sharing his thoughts on You again.  But that’s O.K., because I think they’re the same thoughts in lots of our hearts right now, only he’s helping express them verbally for us.  “Paul is saying, ‘There is not one shed of doubt about this!’…God is greater than all the trials, all the heartaches, all the pain and torment.  God is going to wipe away every tear, every disappointment, every care.  In the end, His way will prevail.  It is His care that will overcome…Christians are not stoics.  We are not unfeeling robots gritting our teeth in the face of tragedy, holding our breath until heaven arrives.  We hurt.  We suffer.  We know pain, just like our Lord.  But we have a glory laid before us, just as Jesus did.  We have a hope that is not based on this world.  And it is incomparable.  Of that, you can be certain!”

Yes, Lord, I believe, therefore I follow and obey.  I must because nothing compares to You.  It doesn’t matter the circumstances around me, no matter how much they hurt, or how scary, or how uncertain.  I’m counting on You because You counted me worthy to die for and worthy to live for.  Well, teach me to die to myself and live in You and for You.  And I don’t ever want to just write about You.  And I don’t ever want to just contemplate You.  I want to live You.  I want to obey You.  I want to experience You every moment of my life.  Even in the silent times, I will wait.  You are teaching me to count the cost Your way.  And You are worth everything. And the wonderful thing is that even in my humanity, even in my pain and sorrow and suffering, I still make Your count because You’ve already counted me in.  So every step I take in faith, no matter my imperfections, I’m O.K. because You’ve counted me in and I’m counting on that.

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