Who of us, when balancing our checkbook only adds up the debits? Silly, right? Or if you have in savings all you need to claim something for your own that is of great value and great benefit and joy – Who of us would look away from the treasure we do have to what we cannot afford? Who of us would give up in despair of what we can’t have, forgetting what we do have? Again, silly right? Yet, how often do we think of what is wrong in life, first, when someone asks us solemnly, “how are you doing”? Without some sort of knowledge and appreciation of “credits” that are greater than our “debits”, in our human default mode of thinking we really are limited to this kind of outlook. I am not saying it is not reasonable to be woeful when the end balance of the check book comes up negative. It’s not comforting or joy inducing when you run out of money before you run out of month. And no one likes trouble and testing. But why is it that even with abundance we fall into this kind of thinking? We look in the refrigerator full of food and say, “there’s nothing to eat”. We flip through hundreds of channels on the TV and say, “there’s nothing on”. What we want or like may not be there, but it doesn’t mean we have nothing. It is all about doing the math and without the right perspective of the pluses and minuses of the right things we live with a futile outlook – disappointed.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds”, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.
We can do this with scripture too. When James 1:2-3 is read and we habitually focus on the underlined – Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds”, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness – futility rings in our ears and down into our gut. Trials, and more than one!? Testing!? We don’t like it. But that perspective comes from not doing the math and allowing the sum to settle in our hearts. The verses say “count it all…” and also with a distinct audience in mind, “my brothers”. These words are to Christians – Christ Ones – Christ followers – those that call upon Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. As Lord and Savior, He is our Hope. We don’t have to hope he is – big difference. I don’t deny that the rest of the scripture calls us to count even our trials and testing as joy, but without knowing and living out who we are in the brotherhood of Christ, “counting it all” only produces an accounting of futility.
Do the “brothers” math. If we can internalize the overwhelming abundance we have in Christ, the debits we encounter in life will not overwhelm us. We must ask ourselves, “Have I counted it all?” – All of what He has done for me (as a brother or sister in Christ) – all of who I am in Him (as a brother or sister in Christ)? Here’s a partial but personalized list…
What He’s done for me…
2 Cor 5:21 For my sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him I might become the righteousness of God. 2 Cor 8:9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for my sake he became poor, so that I by his poverty might become rich. Romans 5:8 but God shows his love for me in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for me.
Who God says I am and what brothers and sisters have in Christ…
I am loved – 1 John 3:3, I am accepted – Eph 1:6, I am a child of God – John 1:12, I am Jesus’ friend – John 15:14, I am a joint heir with Jesus – Rom 8:17, I am united with God and one spirit with Him – 1 Cor 6:17, I am a temple of God. His Spirit lives in me – 1 Cor 6:19, I am a member of Christ’s body – 1 Cor 12:27, I am a Saint – Eph 1:1, I am redeemed and forgiven – Col 1:14, I am complete in Jesus Christ – Col 2:10, I am free from condemnation – Rom 8:1, I am a new creation because I am in Christ – 2 Cor 5:17, I am chosen of God, holy and dearly loved – Col 3:12, I am established, anointed, and sealed by God. 2 Cor 1:21, I do not have a spirit of fear, but of love, power, and a sound mind – 2 Tim 1:7, I am a partner in God’s work – 2 Cor 6:1, I am seated in heavenly places with Christ – Eph 2:6, I have direct access to God – Eph 2:18, I am chosen to bear fruit – John 15:16, I am one of God’s living stones, being built up in Christ as a spiritual house – 1 Pt 2:5, I can always know the presence of God because He never leaves me – Heb 13:5, God works in me to help me do the things He wants me to do – Phil 2:13, I can ask God for wisdom and He will give me what I need – James 1:5, 2 Peter 1:3-4 3 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, 4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.
Wow! Is there anything that can be “greater than” (>) that? Romans 8:37-39 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
So, brothers and sisters in Christ, how is your math? James 1:2-4 2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. Be sure to count it ALL, when you go about counting your trials and testing. Don’t leave out what you have in Christ. Without Christ the debits are overwhelming and enslaving. Do the right math and you’ll see that the Gospel tells us that in Christ your past, your present have been eternally balanced, and that although your future may include some trials and testing, nothing will exhaust or overwhelm what you will always have as a brother or sister in Christ.
Do the math. Ephesians 2:4-7 describes the sum total… 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.