Emotions come easy, but they don’t always come rightly.
As a Christian, we might know how we are supposed to feel in a given situation, we might even desire to feel a certain way in a situation, and yet we don’t. We feel something else – many times that something else is contrary to what we know to be true.
Our emotions, like everything else, suffer the effects of the fall. Consequently, we don’t feel as we should. It seems, though, that the Bible is in many cases less concerned with how we feel, but more concerned with something else:
In fact, much of the Christian life is indeed about counting:
- In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus (Romans 6:11).
- I consider (count) that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us (Romans 8:18).
- But whatever were gains to me I now consider (count) loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider (count) everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider (count) them garbage, that I may gain Christ (Philippians 3:8-9).
- As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered (James 5:11).
Christians count. We count ourselves dead to sin; we count our present sufferings not comparable with the glory to be revealed; we count all things as loss; and we count persecution as blessings. When we count as Christians, we look at the truth we behold in Scripture, then we being that truth to bear on the present situation. Through our counting, we get an accurate assessment of what’s before us. Many times, it’s only through counting that we are able to see through the present circumstances and instead behold the truth of a situation by faith.
In other words, we might not be able to feel, but we can still count.
When, for example, we are tempted to sin, we count. When we count, we remember what Christ has done for us. This is an objective truth, as objective as 1+1=2. We know that we have died to sin and been raised to life in Jesus. Through our counting, then, we see that sin no longer has any power over us.
When, for example, we are tempted to despair because of the suffering in our lives and in the world, we count. When we count, we remember that circumstances and fallenness do not have the final word. We bring to bear the truth of what is to come onto our perspective in our current situation.
Like a kindergartner learning his numbers, so do we practice the discipline of counting, and it is indeed a discipline. We take a step back, realizing that we need truth to interpret our situations and accuracy to drive our feelings. And of course, we can count because Jesus Himself has first been counted:
“It is written: ‘And he was counted with the transgressors’; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment” (Luke 22:37).
Because Jesus has been counted among the transgressors, we can count ourselves as the righteous children of God, dead to sin and alive in Christ. This is a skill we learn over time, starting with 1+1. But as we count more and more, that counting becomes more and more instinctive.
So today – when you don’t feel as you should – don’t be paralyzed by those feelings. Because even when you don’t feel rightly, you can still start counting.