By David Faust
Walking through a mostly empty church building, a friend of mine noticed the minister’s young daughter standing on the stage with a microphone in her hand. She sang, “Jesus loves me, this I know, 40 Bibles tell me so.”
My friend laughed, “Hey, if 40 Bibles say it, it must be so!” The little girl’s math might have been off a bit, but her theology was excellent.
The Lord’s Mathematics
Jesus used some interesting mathematical equations to teach about God’s love. One hundred sheep minus one lost sheep equals a shepherd who searches until he brings the lost sheep home. If one son stays home and one leaves, how many sons does their father care about? (Both.) If two sparrows sell for a penny, yet God notices when even one sparrow falls to the ground, how much is a human life worth? (Infinitely more than a sparrow.)
Sometimes the Lord’s math problems add up to surprising solutions. Five loaves plus two fish equal more than 5,000 people fed with 12 basketsful left over. One poor widow empties her savings account by putting two tiny copper coins in the offering, and in the process gives more than all the rich people who give only a percentage of their wealth. One night a cowardly disciple denies Jesus three times, but a few weeks later he boldly preaches the gospel and sees 3,000 people baptized on the Day of Pentecost.
In the Lord’s math blessings are added (more than we can count), burdens are subtracted (when we cast our cares on him), gifts are divided (distributed throughout the body of Christ), and forgiveness is multiplied (70 times seven).
Our Daily Opportunities
The only chapter of the Psalms ascribed to the authorship of Moses includes a mathematical principle we need to apply on a daily basis: “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12). Here are some ideas to keep in mind if we want to “number our days” aright.
Every day, we should try to see time from God’s perspective. “Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. . . . A thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night” (vv. 1, 2, 4).
Every day, we should remember that our time on earth is limited. “Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures” (v. 10). A 30-year-old has lived nearly 11,000 days, a 70-year-old more than 25,500. But even if we live to be 100, our lives “quickly pass, and we fly away” (v. 10).
Every day, we should live with the end in mind. One day (unknown to us) will be our last 24-hour period in time and space. Meanwhile, each new day is a gift filled with opportunities to serve the Lord. That’s why Moses prayed, “Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days” (v. 14).
It’s good to count our days. It’s even better when we make every day count.
1. Do the math. How many days have you lived on earth so far? How many days do you estimate are still ahead of you?
2. How will you make each day count for God this week?
David Faust is president of Cincinnati Christian University, Cincinnati, Ohio, and past Executive Editor of the Lookout.
Use this guide to read through the Bible in 12 months. Follow David Faust’s comments on the highlighted text in every issue of THE LOOKOUT.
1 Corinthians 12:14–31
1 Corinthians 13
Judges 17, 18
1 Corinthians 14:1–25
1 Corinthians 14:26–40
Judges 20, 21
1 Corinthians 15:1–28