Note: The following blog is adapted from Riley’s book It’s All about the Numbers, Newark, TX, 2009.
I have a confession to make. I hope you’re sitting down. If not, grab a chair.
This may come as a shock to you. Are you ready? Here it comes: I confess that I’m “in it” for the numbers!
That’s right — I do what I do for the Lord for the numbers. I want to see people by the millions coming to Jesus before He returns! I want to see “numbers” of people from every race and religion and from every nation on this planet saved! It’s God’s will that all be saved! Not everyone will accept his or her salvation, but the harvest of souls that God desires to reap represents large, large numbers!
Let’s be honest. We’re all “in it” for the numbers. It just depends on what our “it” is. Your “it” might be your job. At the end of the week when you get your paycheck, the “numbers” reflect the hours you worked and the compensation you receive. If you’re an accountant, a pollster, or a math teacher, you’re in it for the numbers. And if you work for the IRS, you’re definitely in it for the numbers!
Think about someone who’s on a strict diet. Their “it” is calories or pounds. They count how many calories they can have, and they definitely count how many pounds they lose!
A runner counts how many miles he has run. A businessman will let you know how many years he has been in business. A good businessman will set a goal every year as to how much money he wants to make by year’s end.
Some businesses advertise right on their sign the date they were established — so people can see how many “numbers” of years they’ve been in business. This usually gives them more credibility.
What about churches? They do the same thing. They record the “numbers” in attendance. They plan annual budgets for programs based on the “numbers.” Also, a church will evaluate the success of a meeting based on numbers.
Did you know that God is in it for the numbers too? He wrote a Book in the Bible called Numbers! Let’s face it: Numbers are important to God! In John 21:11, the Bible says Peter caught 153 fish! God thought “numbers” were so important that He recorded the number of fish Peter caught that day. So let’s not get “all spiritual” when someone sets a goal for souls! God’s desire is that people come to Jesus by the thousands! As believers, we desire to see all of our family, friends, co-workers, and acquaintances pulled from the flames of hell (see Jude 23)! These people represent “numbers.”
One of my favorite quotes says, “We count people because people count.”
Christians have said to me, “Now, brother, you shouldn’t count the number of people you led to the Lord. You shouldn’t make it look like you’re putting another notch on your Gospel belt.”
“Thank you for saying that!” I always reply. “I want my ‘Gospel belt’ so notched up with souls who give their life to Jesus that you can’t even tell anymore that it’s a belt!” My goal is to see as many “numbers” of people go to Heaven as I possibly can! This goal has been the driving force of my ministry. Some have assumed that I’m only it in for the numbers. And do you know what? They’re right!
I once heard a respected minister say, “The only thing you do in life that will matter when you die is what you’ve done for the Lord.” That statement had a profound effect on my life — it still does to this day.
What about you? Do you share the dream for souls? Do you share a desire to love what God loves — the “precious fruit of the earth” — the harvest of men’s and women’s souls (see James 5:7)? If you do, I bet you’re a number-lover too. It really is all about the numbers!