For 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 NASB)
Suppose I were to offer you a choice: You could either have $1000 or we could get a checkerboard with 64 squares and put a penny on one square. If you choose this option, we would simply double the amount of money on each square (one penny on the first square, two pennies on the next, four pennies on the next). We would double the number of pennies on each new square and you would get the amount of money on the final square. Which option would you pick?
Make this offer to a child and they will almost always pick $1000. At first glance, that’s so much more than a few piles of pennies.
But if you have a little knowledge of math, you realize that the pennies are the better deal. Oh, not at first. Double the penny ten times and you only end up with $10.24. But if you go all the way through the 64 squares of the checkerboard, doubling it each time, your final square will yield a total of $184,467,440,737,100,416.
I used a scientific calculator to run the figures, and it overloaded its capacity before the end. I had to do the last six calculations by hand!
First impressions can lead us astray when we fail to stop and calculate the reality of a situation.
That’s why the Greek word logizomai is such an important New Testament word. It occurs 40 times, so often that we are going to spend two articles exploring it.
Logizomai is most often translated “reckon” or “count.” In secular Greek, it was sometimes used to describe mathematical or financial calculations – to “run the numbers.”
In the New Testament, it has several shades of meaning (which we will explore next time), but a recurring theme is that it describes someone who adopts an opinion after careful consideration of the facts, not just a gut reaction.
Sometimes God is the one who does the reckoning. Of course, He doesn’t have to spend time investigating anything; He already knows it all!
The master passage about God’s reckoning is Romans 4. Ten times in this chapter Paul uses the word logizomai to describe God’s transaction with Abraham. Quoting from Genesis 15:6: “Abraham believed God and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.”
Abraham at first glance looks like a fellow with fairly good character, but no one would say he was perfectly righteous. Remember the episode where he lied about Sarah and almost landed her in a foreign ruler’s harem! In Genesis 15, God made a promise, Abraham believed it, and the verse says that God counted that as equivalent to righteousness.
In Romans 4, Paul picks up that concept and applies it to all of us. Verse 5 says, “The one who does not work [to earn a ticket to heaven] but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted (logizomai) as righteousness.”
At first glance, from our limited perspective, that might seem wrong. We know we’re not righteous at all, but when we place our faith in Christ, God chooses to consider us as righteous. Is He just confused? Just overlooking our sin?
No, He bases the whole transaction on the fact that Christ died for our sins, paying the price for us, taking the judgment we deserved. When we come to Christ, His righteousness is put on our account. In the deepest sense, God is correct in treating us as righteous, even if that seems surprising to us at first glance.
God is not the only one who “reckons” things. We do it as well, and it’s one of the golden disciplines of the Christian life. This week, let’s take just one example: Romans 8:18.
For 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.
A cursory look at life would not say such a thing. Most of us would say that our typical day is filled with enough hassles to wear us out. And there are many days that are far worse than the typical! Being a Christian can be rough as well. Paul knew what it was like to be persecuted for his faith, and we know that Christians are being hounded by enemies across the globe. We are relatively safe and privileged in the United States, but walking with God often leads through dark valleys of suffering.
Is following Jesus worth the cost? Your emotions might make you question it. But that’s just emotion talking, like a child choosing $1000.
Paul says, “Consider the reality of what awaits you. Stop to think through the value of what God plans to reveal one of these days. You are going to step into God’s presence and spend eternity with the One who will make you forget all the sufferings you ever endured.”
Calculating the value of what God promises would burn out the biggest calculator! When your problems seem huge, stop to tabulate the other side of the equation – and be encouraged!
© Ezra Project 2019