God's Math

Subtracting a Negative


I’ve been thinking lately about the two ways the Father deals with us via the cross.

There is subtraction, and there is addition:

Subtraction: “I am crucified with Christ, and I no longer live...”

Addition: “...Jesus Christ now lives in me.”

Subtraction: “Endure hardship as discipline.”

Addition: “Later on, there will be a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”

Subtraction: “If by the Spirit, you put to death the misdeeds of the body...”

Addition: “...you will live.”

Subtraction: “I die every day.”

Addition: “Now we really live...”

Subtraction: “No confidence in the flesh.”

Addition: “Such confidence is ours through Christ before God.”

Subtraction: “I beat my body and make it my slave...”

Addition: “We do it to get a crown that will last forever.”

Subtraction: “We commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger...”

Addition: “...in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and the left...”

I have to learn to embrace God’s work in both columns. By nature, I prefer addition; but I have to learn to see it as God sees it. When I’m experiencing subtraction (like right now!), I have to embrace it as a positive thing. The Spirit’s work is *always* positive. There are two ways to get from 1 to 2. You can either *add* a one, or *subtract* a negative one. Either way gets you the same answer. There are two ways God can fill me more: He can enlarge me, or He can empty me of what’s taking up room already. *Both* are positive.

My temptation is toward unbelief, expressed as self-pity or despair, when I am undergoing subtraction. By God’s grace I have to see through the eyes of faith that subtracting a negative is the same as adding a positive, and welcome His work regardless of which means He is currently choosing.

Oh, Lord! Open our eyes.

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