MAN’S ARITHMETIC 1+1=2
God is a brilliant mathematician (the real Creator of the Laws of Physics). Therefore, it seems like a mistake to think He follows a simple 1+1=2 equation in our lives. What I mean by this equation is that some people think God always rewards good behavior with good conditions and punishes bad conduct with bad circumstances.
You hear this formula whenever someone responds to a bad circumstance with the question, “Is God punishing me for something I did?” Some people will laughingly say, “If I step into a church, I’m sure the roof will collapse, or lightning will hit.” People who believe like this often assume God doesn’t love them and He doesn’t want anything to do with them. Sadly, they think that God is keeping an eye on them solely for the pleasure of zapping them when they mess up.
You see this view of God clearly fleshed out in the Bible’s book of Job (pronounced with a long ō). Job was a very good man and very religious. He was one of the wealthiest men in his community and very generous towards the less fortunate. In a single day all the good things in his life were replaced with bad stuff. All his successful businesses were looted and destroyed. Even worse, that same day, all ten of his children were killed in a tragic accident. Then, one week later, his body was wracked with a terrible disease. I can’t imagine the depth of grief this man endured.
Some of Job’s friends gathered to encourage him. But sadly, they believed the 1+1=2 equation. Instead of comforting Job in his grief, these “friends” tried to convince him that God was punishing him for some sin. They thought that the sooner Job would confess his sin, the sooner God would restore his positive conditions. Can you imagine?! Instead of receiving encouragement, Job had to defend his integrity against their accusations.
That’s what 1+1=2 does. It often accuses the victim as “deserving” the bad things they’ve endured. How cruel! Where’s the comfort in this view for the innocent victim of rape, abuse, theft, or violence? This view drives people away from God. These 1+1=2 people have not tasted the sweetness of God’s mercy and grace.
GOD’S ARITHMETIC 1+1>2
I think a more accurate expression of God’s arithmetic is love + justice = JESUS = mercy + grace. Justice may seem odd in this equation, but according to the Bible, sin isn’t something that can be ignored – it must be punished. We have each stubbornly refused God’s leadership and deserve His justice for our sins. But still, God loves each of us and doesn’t want to judge us. That’s why Jesus’ death is so important. His crucifixion on the cross paid the penalty our sin deserved. As a result, God extends mercy and grace to us.
An acrostic to help us understand grace is God’s-Riches-At-Christ’s-Expense. God offers you His priceless treasures of forgiveness, peace, a cleansed conscience, joy, salvation, and love through Jesus. A verse from the Bible that summarizes this is Ephesians 2:8-9, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast.”
Notice that Heaven is not the reward for good things you’ve done. It’s a place where God welcomes all who admit their need for Jesus. Or, in math vernacular, my sin + Jesus’ grace = eternity with God. If you’ve been under the impression that God doesn’t like you, I hope you’ll look to Jesus. He invites you to come to Him and find rest for your soul.
Remember Job? Read the rest of his story. You’ll find he got through the howling storms of life because he knew that bad circumstances were not a reflection of God’s punishment. Rather, he believed in the mercy + grace equation and trusted that God was still good despite his circumstances.