I told him his fish didn’t count.  Though it was one of the few fish our boat consisting of my grandfather and me had caught, and the only one he had wrestled to the net, I told my uncle his large rock bass didn’t count as part of our bag limit, and he needed to throw it back.  This greatly displeased him, and he let us know it in no uncertain terms as he released his fish back into the water.  He continued to complain about it through the day and around the campfire that night.  (Pause for Thought: “Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn!  Turn from your evil ways.  Why will you die people of Israel?’  “Therefore, son of man, say to your people, ‘If someone who is righteous disobeys, that persons former righteousness will COUNT for NOTHING.  And if someone who is wicked repents, that person’s former wickedness will not bring condemnation.  The righteous person who sins will not be allowed to live even though they were formerly righteous’.”—Ezekiel 33:11-12  What measure of goodness or worthiness do you use to evaluate yourself?  What measure of goodness or worthiness do you use to evaluate others?  What thoughts and emotions course through you as you read God’s proclamation to Ezekiel?)
My prejudice against rock bass kept my uncle’s fish from becoming part of dinner that night.  While rock bass are fun to catch, they just don’t count as table-fare for me.  God’s prejudice against sin was determined before he created the world.  He knew the chances for sin, its allure, and its consequence of death, was possible before creating Adam and Eve.  He knew what it would cost Him to deal with it.  It would take nothing less than the life, death, and unprecedented resurrection of His perfect Son for us to be counted as His.  This is true love in decision and action form.  It illustrates how much we count to Him who created us.  (Pause for Thought:  “Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord will NEVER COUNT against them.  For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him.  The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.  In the same way COUNT yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.”—Romans 4:8; 6:9-11;   “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:  that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, NOT COUNTING people’s sin against them.  And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.”—2 Corinthians 5:18-19   How does Paul’s determination in these Roman/Corinthian passages measure with God’s words to Ezekiel?  Where do you “count” in all of this?  Do you think it is possible to live in mind, body, and spirit like Paul describes?  Why or why not?)
My uncle passed from this life two weeks ago.  Though he struggled through many physical and relational traumas, he knew he counted for and in what mattered most.  His life reflected the journey described by Ezekiel and Paul.  My uncle knew he was counted as righteous and his sins counted no more.  Thank you, Lord, for your Son and my uncle.  (Pause for Thought:  “The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been COUNTED worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name.  Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah”.—Acts 5:41-42; “All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be COUNTED worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering.”—2 Thessalonians 1:5  How can life’s circumstances be an affirmation of our righteousness in Christ?”  How can measuring our life through circumstances result in following a lie?  Are you living a “counted” life today or are you living a lie?  What are you willing to do about it?)