Spiritual Mathematics

Acts 20:24 “neither count I my life dear unto myself”

Philippians 3:8 “I count all things but loss . . . and do count them but dung”

Philippians 3:13 “I count not myself to have apprehended”

Four times in three verses, Paul makes reference to “count I”, “I count” or “do count.” It is interesting that Paul uses three different Greek words for “count” in these three verses; this is for the purpose of emphasizing some special aspects of life and his relationship to life.

In Acts 20:24, Paul emphasized the count with respect to the principle of life; here he regarded it as worth the sacrifice. When Paul arrived at Ephesus, the elders of the church and multiple friends met him. Their concern was the trouble that awaited the Apostle Paul in Jerusalem; troubles not only associated with bonds and afflictions, but the possibility of death. Paul told them that after doing the math, his life is not to be held on to or something to be considered with in such regard that it would keep him from heralding forth the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul said that when it came to pain, punishment, and the putting to death associated with preaching the grace of God; “none of these things move me.”

In Philippians 3:8, Paul emphasized the count with respect to the prosperity of life; here he regarded it as worth the surrender. Previous to his conversion, Saul of Tarsus, now the Apostle Paul; had an affluent life style with respect to race, religion and riches. He came from one of the most respected tribes and held a place of religious esteem; “a Hebrew of the Hebrews; touching the law, a Pharisee.” Paul said that every one of the things that man puts a premium on, he has reckoned and considered nothing more than refuse or that which is thrown to the dogs, in exchange for the “excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus.” Note the word “excellency”; it means to hold oneself above, to excel, superiority or supreme. Having done the math, the real prosperity of life is possessing, a present, experiential relationship of understanding with the Lord Jesus Christ.

In Philippians 3:13, Paul emphasized the count with respect to the purpose of life; here he regarded it as worth the struggle. With respect to the standards and boundaries of the Christian life, Paul did not accept the passive view of Christianity! God had intercepted a religious rebel on the Damascus Road and declared him to “a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel” (Acts 9:15). God laid hold on Paul and now Paul was trying to lay hold on God by surrendering himself to the perfecting work of God. The process was not without its struggles between the Spirit and the flesh (see Romans 7). Having done the math with respect to the calculations, the real purpose of life is worth persevering on in the perfecting work so that one might hear the Lord say, “Well done!”

Looking toward the sunset of life, Paul said, “I have crunched the numbers and done the math! When it comes to the principle of life, the prosperity of life, and the purpose of life; nothing beats giving one’s all to the Lord Jesus Christ! When the books are opened, you will discover that it was worth it; the numbers prove it!