Subtraction

Biblical Mathematics (2)

2-Image by Luiz Jorge de Miranda Neto- Luiz Jorge Artista from Pixabay

I hope you’ve had a great week of addition, adding to the good things God has already given you. Today we’ll look at simple subtraction—the act of taking something away.

Our first instinct is to possessively object to have anything taken from us. After all, didn’t we say last week that God makes us bigger, better, more? That’s true, but we need to subtract to allow space for increase. We see this when we look at what God has subtracted from our lives to replace with something greater:

  • He took my sin and made me righteous.
  • He took my guilt and granted me forgiveness.
  • He took my condemnation and set me free.
  • He took my hopelessness and gave me purpose.
  • He took my emptiness and filled me.
  • He took me out of slavery and made me His child.

Jesus, the great Subtractor, has made me less to make me more. He moved me from the negative column to the plus side. In response, I participate in His Biblical subtraction process by renouncing these:

  • Bitterness
  • Anger
  • Selfishness
  • Fear
  • Unforgiveness
  • Worry

The difference between Jesus’ subtraction and mine is that He subtracts once and for all—He removes my sin completely and forever. My subtraction, however, is an ongoing process—a daily removal of life’s inevitable sin-stains.

So while the definition of subtract is simply to take away, the process for us is not simple or final—but so worth it. Every negative we subtract makes room for something positive.

And that’s an oxymoron of Biblical mathematics—the more we subtract, the greater we become.

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. 1 Peter 2:9-10

See also Eph.4:22-5:15.
Image by Luiz Jorge de Miranda Neto- Luiz Jorge Artista from Pixabay

Debt Forgiveness

6AForgiveUs

Today we’re taking our prayer request to a new level—one that is probing and deeply personal. We ask for forgiveness, for ourselves, for the ones we’re praying about, for those involved in the pain that has brought us to our knees.

I’d rather pray for bread.

“Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.”

Debts. I have debts. Plural. I owe my friend $5 when I was short for the lunch tab. I owe a reciprocal dinner. I owe others for acts of kindness too many to count and too thoughtful to match. I owe visits and emails, words of gratitude and patient listening, encouragement and caring about your story. And that’s just on this plane.

I owe God my life. I am straddled with a debt of forgiveness I can’t pay—a life I cannot purify enough to make worthy, thoughts that dwell on unhappiness more than on Him, service I’m not selfless enough to give, praise that forgets my faltering ego and exalts Him, trust that usurps my fears, worship that is not minimized by mood.

So, I inadequately come to the One who paid all these debts and more, and offer nothing as I ask Him to forgive me—again. I receive sweet mercy and astounding grace. And then I remember the qualifier—forgive as I have forgiven my debtors.

Is there someone I’m holding accountable to me? Does my attitude say you owe me? Am I waiting for reparation?

My forgiveness for others will never be as free and full as what I receive from my Father, but I can make my heart right by releasing my offenders from their debt, like I’ve been released from mine. And then I make forgiveness choices—to not rehearse the offense, to not repay the evil, to bless the offender, to live at peace, to refuse to take the offense that’s been given.

How does this apply to the situations we’ve been praying according to the Lord’s prayer?

Lord, my loved one may not be asking, but I’m asking, please forgive his (or her) sins. Bring him to the place where he will marvel over the magnitude of your forgiving grace. Cut away roots of bitterness that want to take hold. I release from debt, those who have hurt him, who have hurt me. Bring a miracle of healing that only forgiveness can release.

Graphic from vimeo.com/hunterstreet