The concept of “Bad Math,” is something I talk about often – this idea that we consistently frame scenarios and relational dynamics in a way that isn’t actually as logical as it feels.
He gets a raise = I am never going to.
She seems to have it all together = I am a failure in all the things.
They were bragged on/praised/noticed = everyone hates me.
I didn’t get included in that = the world is against me.
She is pretty = I am ugly.
He is successful = He must have some character flaw
They made that comment that frustrated me = They are the worst ever/will never change, etc.
And I could go on an on.
Some days I catch my “bad math,” quickly and correct course. Other days/weeks/months, I let it linger.
Still reading through Genesis and bumped into this scene:
Eve became pregnant and gave birth to Cain…Later she gave birth to his brother Abel. Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. In the course of time Cain brought fruit as an offering to the Lord. And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.
Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”
Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.
We’ve had bad math from the beginning.
But I get it. We have, for most of humanity, understood God as: Good things happen to me = I have God’s favor; bad things happen = God is not okay with me. Some of us still operate like this, even after reading through Job and…the Gospel. But, again, I get it. If I worked hard to bring something to the table and then felt like my “offering” was not as valued as my brother’s – it’s a perfect bad math scenario.
And the Lord’s questions and warning makes so much sense. “Why are you really angry? What is actually upsetting you?” (my translation) And, “Be careful, this line of thinking can lead to some stuff you really don’t want.” (again, my translation)
And Cain marches right on. Just like I do. Granted I haven’t killed people, but I have mentally slayed my fair share of people when my jealous and insecurity popped up.
I always think of the scene in Remember the Titans: “I ain’t gonna lie. I wanted the Hall of Fame real bad. Just plain old jealousy. As old as Cain and Abel.”
Bad math from the very beginning. How are you at letting God do your mental math? Where have you allowed bad math to impact how well you love others, or yourself?
Bad Math from the Beginning