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The Calculation of Faith


“By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king’s command. By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward.” 

(Hebrews 11:23-26)

“Life is like a coin. You can spend it any way you wish. But you only spend it once.” This helpful insight, attributed to American author Lillian Dickson, helps us to see time as a valuable and limited commodity. We can use it for many different purposes, but no matter how we use our time, we are ever exchanging it for something else; and once we have done that we will not get it back. No matter how we spend our days, there is a calculation involved. We pay out the coin of life for what we believe to be worth it.

These verses from Hebrews tell us of people of faith who made calculations about their time in this world.

The parents of Moses risked their lives by hiding their son, in defiance of the command of Pharaoh that all the male children of the Israelites should be killed. This evidently involved something greater than the natural love and concern of parents for their child. They saw that there was something special about Moses and believed that God had a special purpose for him. It was that conviction that moved them to take extraordinary steps to hide the child Moses and preserve his life, for their courageous act is held up to us here as an act of faith.

But it is Moses himself that the writer especially presents as a man of faith in the unusual and surprising choices he made in spending his life. He had the enviable position of grandson to Pharaoh. Rank, power, wealth, and comfort were all his. But he gave it up, choosing instead to suffer affliction with the people of God. He believed that for him to live in luxury and ease as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter would be to enjoy “the passing pleasures of sin” among idol-worshiping people who were persecuting God’s people. It would be to rebel against God, Who had called him to lead Israel out of Egypt. By faith Moses saw that to suffer with his people was to endure “the reproach of Christ.” He was pleased to be identified with the coming Savior. He was not only willing to accept the reproach of the world because of his faith, he even regarded that reproach as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt. How could he make a calculation such as this that was so at odds with the world’s view of things? “He looked to the reward.” He kept on looking away from the troubles of the life to which God had called him to the promised reward of eternal life that he had in Christ.

We have the hope of that same reward of eternal life in Christ. It is what keeps us following Christ even though that means making sacrifices and enduring the contempt of the world. In the Bible God teaches us that these things are not only to be endured, but even valued as marks that we belong to the Lord and not to the world. Paul wrote to the Philippians, “To you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake.” (Philippians 1:29) Paul said that they were to take this as proof from God of their salvation.

Suffering the reproach of Christ in this world is the best way to spend the coin of life.

John Klatt is pastor of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Loveland, Colorado.