“Pop, can you help me with my math homework?” My second grade grandson had come to me with the study sheet his teacher had sent home. Confidence emanated from my countenance as he handed me the paper. After all, I am a college educated adult with many years of experience in handling complex church finances, ever-changing home budgets, and sophisticated building program calculations. Algebra, geometry, calculus, probability and statistics are all in my resume`. Bring it on!
Looking back, it had to be concerning for my grandson to see the look on my face when I started reading the page. Something about linear columns of tens being split into units suddenly interfused into a blur of Tang Dynasty Chinese morphophonemic characters. If you had sent me to the International Space Station to fix the Tissue Equivalent Proportional Counter, I could not have been more confused.
Slowly, my grandson began to explain to me the figures and how to calculate them. After several awkward minutes of Q & A, I began to grasp the general concept of the lesson. Finally, he took the page to his grandmother and I went back to cartoons. Starting a day with miscalculation is a statistical nightmare.
As you know, there are three kinds of people in the world – those who know how to count and those who can’t. Like a friend of mine used to say, “If I only had one day to live, I would live it in math class: it would seem so much longer!
The Bible has many teachings regarding math. In Genesis 6, Noah had to be a math expert in order to build the Ark to the specifications God had given. In 1 Kings 6, Solomon had to know his math to build the Temple and make everything fit. And what about the instruction in math that Jesus gave in Luke 14:28? We should take time for proper calculations before we build a house or a life.
Let me conclude with Psalm 90:12 NIV - “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” This teaching does not mean to count your birthdays in order to compute how long you will live. No man can figure it out even with calculus. Here is the same verse in the NLT – “Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom.”
Psalm 90:12 means to take seriously each day we have, and to cherish it in the Presence of the Lord. In the end, when your life is added up, will it give all glory to God? Do the math.