Counting is something that all of us are familiar with. It is something that we learned to do early in life, perhaps when we first started school.
At some time during this week, and perhaps today, some of us have had to do some counting. In this day and age, if you don’t know how to count you are indeed in a bad place. Counting is a part of our everyday living, because we all deal with money — in some aspect we all are on an even playing field.
I believe that counting is one of the most basic, important learning skills we receive in school. To function in society we all need to know how to do this, and a person who cannot count is at a disadvantage.
ABC’s is good, God knows that it is. Without them you cannot put words together and, if you cannot put words together, you cannot put sentences together; and if you cannot put sentences together, you cannot convey a message.
Reading is a good thing. To be able to look at a message and be able to interpret what the message says opens up the world to us. But the ability to count is also essential to living a productive life.
The word count in this message doesn’t necessary deal with counting money, it deals with something that all of us who are of the Christian faith face are confronted with. The word count, according to the MW Collegiate Dictionary, means: “to indicate or name by units or groups so as to find the total number of units involved.”
Another meaning is: “To rely or depend on someone or something.”
And there are other definition, but the last definition, as I believe relates to this message, is “to have value or significance.” Which means we are to value that which we are dealing with — even that which is painful. And though it is not always easy to do, because some things we deal with are not pleasant, but hear me this morning when I say we are to value or see the significance of what we are called upon to face in this life as we walk the Christian journey.
The word trial means “a test of faith, patience, or stamina through subjection of suffering or temptation broadly.” All of us reading this morning can identify with this definition. “A test of faith through suffering”… and it is this that James talks about today, because of the intensity of the moment in which he lived, he understood that a lot of Christians were going through some things which were testing their faith — and unless he wrote to them, some of them were on the verge of succumbing, fainting or giving up.
Community, some trials can make us feel like giving up, depending on what it is that we are going through. In the book of James, his writing through the Holy Spirit says, “My brethren (and sisters), count it all joy when you fall into divers (or various) temptations (trials)” Now community, let me share this with you: Outlook determines outcome, and attitude determines action. God tells us to expect trials. It is not “if you fall into various testings” but “when you fall into various testings.”
The believer who expects his Christian life to be easy is in for a shock. Jesus warned His disciples, “In the world ye shall have tribulation” (John 16:33). Paul told his converts that “we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). We must experience trials. We cannot always expect everything to go our way. Some trials come simply because we are human — sickness, accidents, disappointments, even seeming tragedies. It’s a part of life; other trials come because we are Christians. Which means some people will not like us simply because we belong to Christ and what we stand for; we “irk” some people and stir up the devil simply because we belong to Christ.
That’s why we need to count; count it all as joy, because once we forget to count, we will begin to complain.
Friends, we can face trials with joy because we know that the end result will bring glory to God. So community, don’t forget to count; count whatever you are facing today as joy. And maybe that’s our problem community, we are not counting; we’re sulking and feeling sorry for ourselves.
If you are in a trial this morning, if your world around you seems to be falling down, start counting. You don’t have to understand it, but know it’s for your benefit (Rom. 8:28). Tears in your eyes? Count! Pain is your middle name? Count! Something is going on in your body? Count! Struggling? Count!
Community, don’t despise it, thank God for it! It’s to bring out the best in you; one day you’ll look back and thank God for it, so don’t forget to count, that’s your strength … count it all JOY! Have a joyful attitude about your trials, and if you do, you will come out with victory every time.
Friends, don’t forget to count.
The Rev. George Ellis is pastor at Union Grove Missionary Baptist Church.