Logizomai (Part 2) - Calculating Values

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child.

(1 Corinthians 13:11a NIV)

Sometimes children can calculate remarkably well.  They can figure out which parent is more likely to let them stay up past bedtime or which one is a soft touch for some extra dessert.  But they are really not  equipped to weigh different options or estimate an item’s value. 

Paul expressed that truth in 1 Corinthians 13:11 when he said, “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child.”

That word “reasoned” comes from the Greek word logizomai, which  describes the way we carefully consider the facts before making a decision. Secular Greek used it for math calculations or financial analysis.  It is the mindset of a person who refuses to buy the first chariot on the lot.  He kicks the tires, compares the price of other chariots, and takes one out for a test drive.    

Logizomai appears 40 times in the New Testament.*  At least a fourth of those uses appear in Romans 4, where Paul points to the verse in Genesis that says, “Abraham believed God and the Lord reckoned it to him as righteousness.” From that base, he explains that God counts us righteous when we put our faith in Jesus.

At first glance, that seems wrong.  Abraham wasn’t perfect, and I’m not in his league.  However, God was thinking of the death of His Son to provide atonement for us.  Look at my sin and look at Christ’s righteousness.  Is it sufficient for me?  Certainly!

Logizomai usually describes people, not God.  It shows us moving beyond the first glance, investigating reality and calculating the truth.  Here is a sampling of the many ways it comes into play:

·         John 11:50 – The high priest Caiaphas told the Jewish Sanhedrin, “You do not take into account that it is better for one man to die than to watch a whole nation perish.”  Which is better: the death of this troublemaker Jesus or the destruction of the Jewish nation?  To Caiaphas, it was obvious.  He was wrong, but he did try to weigh the options.

·         Acts 19:27 – An angry silversmith tried to convince the crowds in Ephesus that Christians were nothing but trouble. He claimed, “There is danger that the temple of the great goddess Artemis may be counted as nothing.”  Christians were bad for business because they looked past the luxurious façade of idolatry and saw that no god was there.

·         Hebrews 11:19 – Abraham chose to obey God’s command to sacrifice his son, Isaac because he considered that God was able to raise Isaac from the dead.  His first thought: he’s going to lose his son.  Further analysis: God will keep His promises, even if it takes a resurrection.

·         Romans 6:11 – Paul says, “Consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.” At first glance, I feel very alive to sin – it’s easy to fall to temptation!  But the reality is that I have become a new person in Christ.  Sin is no longer in control.

·         Romans 14:14 – Christians drew up battle lines around topics like kosher foods and Jewish holidays.  But Paul asks for mutual consideration. “To him who thinks anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean.”  If a brother has carefully thought through these issues and come to a conclusion, we should not push him to go against his conscience.

·         1 Corinthians 4:1 – The Corinthians were breaking into factions, cheering for one leader vs. another.  They were emotionally caught up in hero worship.  Paul, however, urges them to take an unbiased look at reality.  “Let a man regard us in this manner, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.”  Not superstars or politicians running for office – servants and stewards!

·         1 Corinthians 13:5 – Classical Greek used logizomai for bookkeeping.  When Paul says, “Love does not take into account a wrong suffered,” he pictures a ledger.  When someone wrongs you, you have the choice of writing that obligation on the list of debts or choosing to forgive and let it go.

·         2 Corinthians 10:2, 7, 11; 11:5; 12:6 – Corinth suffered from a crowd of critics who claimed that Paul was not a genuine apostle.  They sidestepped his leadership by questioning his legitimacy.  In each of these verses, Paul points out that a careful scrutiny of his ministry and his credentials will demonstrate that he is truly an apostle, even if he sometimes seems unimpressive at first glance.

·         Philippians 3:13 – Paul is pursuing the upward call of God in Christ Jesus, of perfect likeness to His Lord.  But he is not claiming perfection.  Instead, he explains, “I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it [God’s goal for him] yet.”  Sober calculation of his progress reveals that he is still on the road, moving toward his calling.

And here’s an interesting one:

Philippians 4:8 – Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence or if anything worthy of praise . . .

                What do we do about those things?

                We logizomai them!

                I believe this verse is telling us to carefully scrutinize the flow of things calling for our attention. Instead of mentally flitting from one thing to another, let’s calculate carefully which ones are worth our attention.  The verse gives an 8-point grid that we can use to evaluate.  When you choose what to read, watch, or think about, take a moment to compare it with this list.  This is how we can “take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).

* Used of God: Romans 4:3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 22, 23, 24; 2 Cor 5:19; Gal 3:6; 2 Tim 4:16; James 2:23.  Used of people: Luke 22:37; John 11:50; Acts 19:27; Rom 2:3, 26; 3:28; 6:11; 8:18, 36; 9:8; 14:14; 1 Cor 4:1; 13:5, 11; 2 Cor 3:5; 10:2, 7, 11; 11:5; 12:6; Phil 3:13; 4:8; Heb 11:19; 1 Pet 5:12.

© Ezra Project 2019

John Bechtle