Have you ever felt that way? Or been told that you will never amount to anything? Or treated like you are nobody?
The concept of zero is not that old among Europeans. The encyclopedia informs us that Greek philosophers had debated how nothing could be something! But zero may actually have been discovered by the Mayan Indians about 100-200 years AD. The Hindus discovered zero several hundred years later. From there it spread westward, reaching Europe perhaps in the 1400’s. So for the North Atlantic countries, zero is only about 600 years old.
To see how important zero can be, write 1 x 0 = 0, then try 1 + 0 = 1. Not a great deal of significance. Next, write two 1’s then insert a zero between them = 1 0 1! Or try three 1’s and insert two zeros between them = 1 0 1 0 1, or 10,101. So you see, zero can make a big difference!
In the Bible we find two famous examples of “human zeros”. Jesus said that He “made himself nothing” by becoming a man, then humbling himself to become a servant, even to the point of dying on a cross. He made himself nothing in order to make us something! Why? So we can humble ourselves to become servants—nothings—in order to make other people something. “…in humility count others more significant than yourselves. This is the mind of Christ” (Phil. 2:3,7,8). What an example of the potential in becoming a “nothing”.
The second example was Paul: “For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle…” (I Cor. 15:9). In fact, he went even further and described himself thus: “Although I am less than the least of all God’s people, this grace was given to me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ…” (Eph. 3:8, NIV). Least, less than the least…that is less than zero! Notwithstanding, he was given the privilege of opening the door of salvation to the Gentiles. (This is our privilege as well when we witness to others.)
Now for examples of some not-so-famous zeros: you and I! We may echo Paul’s life message in Gal. 2:20: “I have been crucified with Christ, now I no longer live; it is Christ living in me…” And even further: “By the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that was with me” (I Cor. 15:10 ESV).
This is the secret of true significance. We make ourselves “nothing” by becoming servants to others, looking for opportunities to share the riches of Christ, considering ourselves dead but alive in Christ and He in us, allowing His grace to flow through us in our service day by day. He has appointed us His ambassadors; we are more than conquerors.
So, when someone tells us we will never amount to anything, that we are nothing, or treats us like nothing, we can reply (or at least think): “So, what’s new? I’ve followed the example of Jesus and have already made myself nothing. I am less than the least. But Christ lives in me and I depend wholly upon Him as His ambassador.”
Think about that the next time you eat your zeros (Cheerios)!