While conversing with someone the other day, it occurred to me that the number zero doesn't always represent nothing. Sure, when someone asks, "How many dollars do you have in your checking account?" and you respond, "Zero," then that means you have nothing in terms of money. Or if your personal trainer states that you've made "zero progress" this week, then it means nothing significant was achieved toward your fitness goals. But there are times when zero most assuredly means something. For instance, I once heard someone jokingly request that a check writer "add a few zeros" to the number on the check, clearly indicating the substantiveness of zero in that case. And my wife and I are certainly happy that we now carry zero debt on our home and that I recently bought something on credit with a 0% APR.
You see, the value of zero is contextual. By itself, yes, zero often represents nothing; however, under the right circumstances, it can have great worth. When placed next to another non-zero number, for example, zero clearly has value. In fact, every time a zero is added to a number greater than itself, that number increases in value tenfold! One becomes 10, 10 becomes 100, 100 becomes 1,000, 1,000 becomes 10,000, and so on.
What a spiritual lesson this is for us as believers in Jesus Christ! Alone, we are all zeros. We have very little innate worth in and of ourselves. Isaiah 64:6 tells us, "All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away" (NIV). Fortunately, we don't have to remain filthy and worthless. When we obediently come alongside "the One," we suddenly take on great value. When we follow God, our zero becomes 10. And as the church, when we all start to follow God together--when we all line up behind Him--our 10 becomes 100, then 1,000, then 10,000, then...well, you get the idea!
Folks, we can try to go it alone in this world, and we can attempt to multiply our efforts through the various worldly schemes out there. But, remember, zero times anything in this world is still zero. On the other hand, if we are willing to submit to God and receive our value from Him, then we can actually bring something worthwhile to the equation.
At the end of the day, then, we have a choice to be nothing zeros or something zeros...zeros who try to make it alone or zeros who know they are alone without Him. The question is, "What kind of zero are you?"