1 Chronicles 21:1–22:19; 2 Timothy 2:14–26; Psalm 86:1–87:7
In a world of metrics, it’s easy to become obsessed with statistics and start to quantify every aspect of our lives. Stats can even become a type of scorekeeping between churches or pastors: “We have more members than you do.” We may never say those words out loud, but we think them; more than one person has made the mistake of measuring a ministry based on attendance. But God has His own method for measuring success.
Prompted by an adversary (“Satan” is often better translated as “adversary” or “accuser” in the Old Testament), David decides to seek metrics—to count the people of Israel. This account illustrates the harm of seeking gratification or understanding in numbers. In 1 Chronicles 21, major problems emerge from this: including placing an adversary’s will above God’s and predicting God’s will rather than seeking it regularly.
Rather than counting our successes, we should be counting on God for success. We should also be tallying how often He is faithful rather than how many we are in number. We’re more likely to see God’s faithfulness when we’re looking for it rather than looking for probabilities. David succeeded as a warrior and king not because he deserved it, but because God chose for him to do so. In 1 Chronicles 21, David forgets God’s role, even though his (often wrong and bloodthirsty) general reminds him otherwise. In fact, God’s use of Joab as His messenger demonstrates that God’s providential will can come from the least likely places.
Keeping a tally isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and we shouldn’t avoid metrics and stats. But we need to keep information in perspective. It’s not about baptizing 200 people on a Sunday—although that’s a blessed thing. It’s about lives being transformed and people being blessed so that they can experience transformation.
How can you count on what God is doing instead of counting what you deem success?
John D. Barry
 Barry, J. D., & Kruyswijk, R. (2012). Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.