1+ 1 = 2 is the simplest of equations. But, 1 – 1 = 0 is the equation of legalism and law. It says that for every positive a negative takes that away. Worst yet, if for every positive we post more negatives we are in the red, thus, 1-2 = (-1). If this was a loan we would owe money and be in debt.
Many Christians live their lives this way. They stress and stive to get ahead of the sin curve, to add more better than bad. They don’t want to be in debt, spiritually speaking. And so, the goodness syndrome begins. They work overtime to be “good,” working on the don’t list like don’t swear, don’t steel, don’t get angry, don’t lust, don’t envy or be jealous, don’t lie, don’t do this or do that.
And then there is the good list: be humble, tithe (give ten percent), go to church, read my Bible, be a nice person, serve every chance you get, and so on.
Worse yet, many people do not become Christians because they are so far in the red they figure what’s the use? They look at the “good” Christians and think: “I feel dirty even being around them, so why be around them?” Or, “I can’t possibly measure up to some of those spiritually pure people.”
To put us on equal footing, we need to see how even the best of us are sinners.
For a lot of us, it’s the subtlety in the way we sin. Our sin might not be as obvious to us, but we do good things out of self-interest: we want praise, we give in such a way other people know we’ve given, we become humble so people can see our humility, we pray in such a way people will admire our praying, and we flaunt our spirituality. There are so many ways our goodness is not really good. Our goodness comes out of sinful desires.
But, grace messes up even the most basic equations.
The Grace equation says that 1-1 = 10! Grace says that whatever sin has put us in debt the sacrifice of Jesus not only takes us out of the red but puts us in a much more positive situation than we deserve. Grace declares you are in abundance rather than in the red, you’re qualified when you’re not, you’re free instead of being in bondage, you’re loved not hated, you’re cared for not abandoned, you’re accepted not rejected, you’re embraced not shunned, and you’re ok when you feel you’re not ok.
Grace is the equation that doesn’t make sense. It can’t be computed, tallied, framed, or hypothesized. It can’t be programed into a computer or calculated on a machine.
We can do nothing to add it to our lives, yet we can receive it and distribute it.
When we live by the grace equation it has an exponential component to it; we multiply the grace given to us, back to others. We become distributors of grace.
We forgive those who have hurt us, expel bitterness from our hearts, empathize with the broken, and love our fellow human.
It doesn’t make sense, but it all adds up!
Be part of the grace equation.
“Sow your seed in the morning,
and at evening let your hands not be idle,
for you do not know which will succeed,
whether this or that,
or whether both will do equally well.” Ecclesiastes 11:6 (NIV)
Solomon’s wisdom here tells us that the world is full of opportunity and success. Right now, we may not know where “success” lies, but God is encouraging us to test the waters. Try things out. Look at opportunity through the lens of discovery.
What will succeed in your life?
What will be the thing that causes you to flourish?
What missing element will you find?
Are there different niches you need to explore within the industry you’re in?
The wisdom of Solomon here echoes what he said in Proverbs:
“You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail”
Proverbs 19:21 (NLT)
Where you are headed may not be where you planned, but where you land is where God planned. Where God wants us to be many not be where we thought of going, but when you get there you see God’s hand.
Abraham didn’t plan to go to Canaan
Joseph didn’t plan to go to Egypt
Israel didn’t plan to go to Babylon
Paul planned to go to Rome many times, but didn’t get there until later, and then in prison.
I didn’t plan to go to Iowa, or Las Vegas, or….
Where didn’t you plan to go, that when you got there (location, career, etc) you could see God’s hand in it?
Use this time to look for and see God’s hand in your leading. He may take you to some unexpected place doing some unexpected thing.
What is God’s view of and purpose for work? (industry, commerce)
Simply put, God designed men and women to work.
Gen. 1:28 says, “Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.” (NLT)
First, we need to understand that God created work before man fell into sin, not after. Work is NOT a result of sin. God designed us to work, to be productive, and to make things.
Also, we need to understand that to “be fruitful, and …fill” the earth is not just about having babies. It’s about developing the culture. It’s about crafting and creating; growing and going; making and manufacturing.
Each industry is the context in which we work. Each domain is the kingdom in which we become productive, purposeful, useful, creative, and contribute.
Each industry is where we bring to the world our craft to sell and use, to buy and to wear, to design and to house, to manufacture and distribute, to prepare and to eat.
Each industry has a God given purpose in this world—the old world as well as The New world.
Each time there was some new setting, God called us to do what we were designed to do—work.* When man left the Garden, God called (Gen. 3:23), when man stepped off the Ark, God called (Gen. 9:1), when the heart of Israel was dragged into a foreign country, God called (Jer. 29:7); and in the New Testament age, in the midst of advancing God’s Kingdom, Paul encourages Christians to not forget about their original calling: “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.” Colossians 3:23 (NLT)
Finally, and ultimately, our reason to work and to make and create and use things will finally have the holy sense of purpose God designed for it. Everything we make and touch and use will be holy to the Lord:
“On that day even the harness bells of the horses will be inscribed with these words: Holy to the lord. And the cooking pots in the Temple of the Lord will be as sacred as the basins used beside the altar. In fact, every cooking pot in Jerusalem and Judah will be holy to the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.” Zechariah 14:20, 21 (NLT)
So, for today and tomorrow, God is calling us to work, * to be industrious, and to commence with commerce, for His Glory!
*Please note this is NOT intended to be a political statement. I am NOT advocating we open too soon, or that we ignore the danger that is out there.
John Elzinga is a speaker and author who has over forty years’ experience in leadership, culture building, customer service, and ministry. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or @JohnElzinga on Twitter or Linkedin.com/in/johnelzinga
The Good News is that Jesus did what we could never do….
The reality of Christ coming and dying in the flesh!
It is about Him, not us.
It’s about the fact that no wisdom can save us, no signs or wonders can elevate us, there is nothing—-nothing—-we can do, or achieve, or demonstrate, that can make us holy enough, deserving enough, to be saved. Nothing can save us.
Only Christ come in real human flesh, dying in the ultimate way, in view for all to see, humiliated, Christ—-God Himself—-doing what we could never do, being what we can never be. For those of us who will accept what we could never gain——receiving mercy and grace that we never deserved!”
© John Elzinga johnelzinga.com
As an amateur poet, I reflect upon how my emotions and my faith flutter during times of trial, and so I wrote this poem I call EACH TIME. I hope it resonates with and encourages you. The words are below.
Each time I meet a trial
Each time I’m caught off guard
Each time I reach the bottom
Each time I wonder why?
Each time I feel alone
Each time that I am hurt
Each time the loss is great
Each time I wonder why?
But each time I know the answer
Yet each time I seem surprised
God is in control of all things
He will take care of things in time.
Each time my faith is weak
Each time I realize
God’s grace comes in His patience
As He comes to me each time.
He comes to me each time
To remind me that He cares
He comes to me each time
To tell me that He’s there.
And In the weakness of my faith
In the frailty of my trust
Although I don’t deserve it
He rescues me, each time.
So, don’t worry about your weakness
Or be scared about your doubt
Weak or strong, frail or not
God loves and rescues us, each time.
What would Noah Do? A devotional on what Noah did after his very long quarantine on the ARK
This Devotional is based upon Psalm 143. It is David’s prayer of desperation. It reveals Faith in the Midst of Doubt