One of the wrecking balls that postmodernism has sent careening into our world is the notion that words have no objective meaning. The postmodern says that words only contain meaning for the one using them (and of course they expect you to understand what they mean when they say that). The speaker, it is insisted, may have a specific meaning in mind when articulating the word, but the hearer may have a different—and equally valid—meaning when he hears/reads the word spoken/written. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that in such a world meaningful and even functional communication is impossible. In that world when I sit down at a restaurant and order baked rigatoni with meat sauce and the wait-staff bring me chicken parmesan I have no room to object. My words had no inherent, objective meaning. So shut up and eat your chicken!
So when we lose a word through disuse we must be certain that we don’t lose its meaning. There may be truth that has been carried in the luggage-hold of that now-dated word that remains valuable. Thus we’ve been searching for words of our faith that have fallen into disuse and we’ve been seeking to revive the truth which they carry.
One such word is reckon. My dad used that word a lot. “Dad, can I borrow the car tonight?” “I reckon,” he would say. I knew just what he meant, but I wonder if those younger or from other areas of the country might?
In the New Testament the word reckon translates the Greek word logizomai. This is the source of our English words logic and logical. One Greek language expert says it means to “think according to logical rules” (Friberg). Another says it means “to reckon, count, compute, calculate, count over” and “to reckon inwardly, count up or weigh the reasons, to deliberate” (Thayer). I think you can see why it was a word used in the world of accounting.
The New Testament tells us there are some things God reckons to be true. For example, he has reckoned the righteousness of Christ to our account (Rom. 4:3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 22, 23, 24; Gal. 3:6). This is an act of His grace and is entered into by faith. As we believe God’s promise, He reckons us to be His children: “In other words, it is not the natural children who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded [reckoned] as Abraham’s offspring” (Rom. 9:8).
The New Testament also tells us that there are some things that we must reckon to be true. For starters we must reckon that God’s reckoning is true: “For we maintain [reckon] that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law” (Rom. 3:28)! When He declares us righteous by grace (transferring the record of Christ’s righteousness to our account in heaven) through faith, we need to calculate that it is indeed true. We are also called upon to reckon ourselves dead to sin with Christ: “In the same way, count [“reckon,” KJV] yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 6:11).
Here are some other passages to explore which use the word and demand that we rightly calculate the reality of things (Rom. 8:18; 1 Cor. 13:5; 2 Cor. 3:5; Phil. 4:8). You won’t find the English word “reckon” in the translation, but logizomai is there. We are often required to think “factually” rather than “emotionally.” We may feel one thing is true, but we must reckon that what is true. Do you see how desperately we need this word? Postmodernism says that such thinking is dangerous, because truth is only true if it’s in you. Truth has no objective meaning outside of whether it feels right to you. Just think how much of God’s love, grace and truth we’d miss out on if we didn’t reckon that Postmodernism has gotten it wrong!
What we discover is that God reckons in grace. His reckoning is based upon His determined will. On the other hand we reckon in faith which is based upon His declared Word.
When we reckon, we, by an act of our will, choose our thinking. We choose to believe what God says and decisively determine to calculate everything based upon His valuation of reality. Fact is that anyone who does not reckon as God reckons is a fool. Such a person is living in a make-believe world that may feel like reality, but one day the fuller view of reality will dawn upon them and they will see how they have wasted both their years and fears. As my dad would say, “I reckon I don’t want to live that way.”