I’m currently studying the book of Philippians. A welcome break after trudging through Jeremiah and Lamentations. I have a love affair with God’s Word, and I usually love the Old Testament more than the New, but Philippians was a breath of fresh air after chapters upon chapters of disobedience, repercussions, and the sorrow that inevitably follows.
I settled into chapter three this morning with my type-A rainbow pens at the ready to mark up the pages in my own personal color-coded system. Part of that system is noticing repeated phrases. When God says something once, He means it. When He says it twice, it’s a big deal. When He says it three times? You better pay attention.
This morning I started paying attention. I noticed that Paul tends to analyze things. He categorizes his faith and his life into neat little piles. And then he counts what’s in the piles. (I think Paul might have a touch of OCD in him.) But it made me think: when was the last time I analyzed my faith? Took note of the things I’m proud of to really measure their lithmus test? Do I count them as loss? Or gain?
Paul counted his life. His faith. His sufferings. His friends. On paper, he was the ideal Christian. But he counted those characteristics as loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus. (Phil. 3:7-8)
Though his faith was weathered and, as a result, deeply rooted, he pressed on. Digging deeper still. Not counting himself as having apprehended, but always reaching further. Stretching out to Christ that much more. Every single day. (Phil. 3:13)
He didn’t count people as enemies, writing them off. Instead, he admonished them as brothers. Oh LORD, how easily I write people off. (2 Thess. 3:15)
But GOD. Oh, BUT GOD. He maintains the power to count rightly. And He counts him as faithful. (1 Tim. 1:12)
And then comes the golden nugget. The little treasure God leads me to in one way or another through my time with Him at least once a week. Sometimes more. A constant reminder. A continual promise.
Likewise, Sarah counted GOD faithful and received strength to conceive. (Heb. 11:11)
There’s an entire book devoted just to counting people. All through scripture there are censuses. LORD may I take a regular census of my faith. And may I always count YOU faithful so that I can count it all joy in the midst of every single trial (James 1:2). And even count it all joy outside of them.