But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8—NKJV)

The very phrase “stand up and be counted” conjures up the vision of someone bravely accepting a challenge by choosing to end his comfortable season of inaction and taking steps that will draw the notice of all within eyeshot. Other phrases in our language carry similar imagery (“Who will stand with me?” or “Are you with me?”). Usually there is a price to be paid for such bravery though its cost is perceived to be less than the cost of inaction and its attendant consequences.

The word “demonstrates” in our verse comes from a Greek word which means “to stand together.” Its larger meaning is to stand by, to hold together, to confirm, to bring out clearly, and to commend (as in a recommendation). Peter uses the word to describe how the dry land during Noah’s day became one with the floodwaters (stood together) so that no one survived but those on the ark. The land was demonstrably in complete agreement with the floods so that none found land on which to survive (2 Peter 3:5).

Paul uses the word more often than any other New Testament writer primarily in Romans and 2 Corinthians, though in Colossian 1:17 he uses it to describe the work of Christ maintaining all things of this world, standing together by His very power. His usage of the word in 2 Corinthians is in the context of a defense of his ministry credentials because some were asking who vouched for (stood with) him. He uses the word no less than eight times driving home the point that it is more important to be standing with God than counting who is standing with you. After all, those who genuinely stand and are counted with Jesus Christ are able to see clearly who else is standing with the Savior.

Lest you think that standing up for Christ is a one-way street, Paul gives us this gem in Romans. Before we were ever called to stand and be counted for God, He stood and was counted for us, though the price was high, far higher than anything we are asked to pay. To this point in Romans, Paul has been laboring to show that mankind had rejected God, has no grace derived from within to seek out God, no merits to gain traction with God, and no capacity to exercise saving faith. Into this arena of lostness God stepped, in keeping with the grace of His great love for us. Despite mankind’s ongoing pursuit of depravity and senseless ignorance of His deep love, He pursued us “while we were yet sinners.” He did not wait for you or me to pull it together and clean up our life first (verse 6 points out that we were powerless). He acted, and His carriage of Himself was with strength and with grace.

Our great need and His great love is what led to the death of His Son, Jesus Christ. “Christ died for us” means literally that Christ died in our place. He died the death we should have died for our sins. The Innocent for the guilty, the Perfect for the grotesque. He paid our penalty. Jesus died so that He might rescue us from impending doom and the “slough of despair.”

By this supreme work of grace God stood together with us and was counted. His love is clearly proven, is demonstrated, and His intentional plan is united with effective action. The cost to God is incalculable to us and therefore inconceivable to us, which is all the more reason to see that His love is proven beyond any reasonable doubt.

Now you see the line has been drawn in the sand and our Savior has crossed the line first. He issues the call, “Who will stand together with Me and be counted?” In what area of your life are you being called to take a stand for Christ? Where is the price of inaction far exceeding the price of action? Will you stand with Him who has already stood for you? Trust and obey.