4 Math Mistakes Your Faith Must Avoid

The Love/Hate of Math:
     You either love math or you hate it, right?
     Most of us never pay any attention to how much math is really involved with our lives. In any decision, we’re doing math – something is more important than “>” something else. Simple math. “If these three things don’t get completed by noon, they will add up to trouble with my supervisor and impact my annual review and subsequent raise…” Complex math. If I tell Tom the whole truth about this, he’ll think x which means he’ll do y and tell Renee z and then she’ll never call me again… Relationship algebra.

     I’ve met a lot of people who say they hate math, but I don’t think I’ve met more than a handful that don’t like to make good decisions. Math is the process by which we get to any desired result through weighing priorities, predicting outcomes, hoping for the best, etc. Whether we realize it or not, we all have a certain love for math. Always calculating something, planning the next thing, dreaming, wishing, praying… Math, math, mathing away.

     Recently, I was thinking about “commit your way” and “He who called you is faithful and He will bring it to pass”…

     There’s math there. Did you spot it? It’s like what happens when we add a hundred complex numbers together but multiply them by zero: everything we did before the zero is wiped away, or impacted by the zero. In math, the zero is called a factor. In life God is the factor that impacts all of our busy work, calculating, and… mathing around.

We all run the risk of making four critical mistakes as we make our figuring:

  1. We assume we have more time, resources, talent, influence… (presuming on God)
  2. We assign too much value to the power evil instead of the power of God to accomplish His plans (fear & worry).
  3. We assign too little value to the consequences and implications of the evil inherent in a Genesis 3 world and get angry or disappointed with God when things don’t work out. (blind faith/prosperity gospel)
    3a. We rely too heavily on the result looking like our picture rather than God’s. (outcome management)
  4. We spend too much effort avoiding pain or gaining pleasure, resulting in white knuckle gripping the wheel to arrive at our destination… (walking by the flesh instead of the spirit)

     In all of these mistakes, we commit one debilitating sin: factoring out God.

Three A’s on the Next Math Test:
Authority – If God is truly sovereign, here’s the impact:
     God is painting on a canvas the size of the universe stretched across eternity and is sovereign over it all, eternally. Therefore, our perspective is vastly limited and we must constantly factor in His authority over it all: Job was keen to accept both good and bad from God’s hand, more importantly he recognized it as God’s hand. (See Job 2:10)

     However, considering that power and authority are only given for purposes of the giver and those in our authority helps us to hold on to outcomes a bit more loosely. Deciding and acting with this factor in mind can self correct our math throughout the process. In Charles Stanley’s words: “God takes full responsibility for the life fully surrendered to Him.” Minimizing or maximizing what time we do/don’t have, resources, talents, etc., ceases to be an issue, freeing us to exist in the zone of relying on God to provide resources, influence, and “sun stood still” moments (see Joshua 10:13). 

     Further, keeping God’s sovereignty front and center keeps us focused on the fact that He is our prize, He is our judge and will ultimately reward us for all we have done, regardless of temporal outcomes. See 2 Cor. 5:10. God is not limited by time, will not be defined by temporal victories/defeats, and ultimately assigns the absolute value to all things done “under the sun” whether they appear good or bad in the eyes of man.

     Consider right now the impact this has on all of our worrying, complaining, and anger and outcome management. No, I’m not going to expand on that – this is your assignment. Go, do it. 🙂

Abiding – If we are truly surrendered to Him, full time, here’s the impact:
     Remaining in God effectively means we’re safe from the lures of the sinful nature. That’s it. If we’re connected to Jesus, we’re by default not gratifying the flesh (as in #4 above). This is a crucial factor in every decision we make. A friend and mentor of mine tells me that all business will naturally reach the same conclusion as long as ego, greed, and agenda are kept out of the room. Abiding in Christ is like Febreeze for the stench of these three. God becomes less a factor and more the math itself.
Availability – If our plans are guided by the Spirit, here’s how the math flows:
     God presents a project or outcome and we set out for it. Circumstances as we see them change and that outcome is no longer possible. When we’re available to God (via abiding) we not only hear the “audible” that God called after the huddle, we’re able to recognize that the outcome we were chasing was not the point… the process was the point. God is not a god of events – He is our sanctifier. Thus, He is a god of processes. Being available to God’s purposes, plans, and processes vs. outcomes saves us from shame, guilt, regret, and disappointment.

     Where are you in most danger of making these critical math mistakes? Which are your pet math mess ups?