Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Multiplicity Blessing

“Other seed fell into good soil and brought forth grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.”

~Mark 4:8 (NRSV).

Whenever I hear the words “wealth” and “prosperity” in Christian settings I’m usually pretty suspicious. I’m not a believer in material abundance in the spiritual realm—only ‘enough to get the work done’ is my motto.

It is sad that the clamour and acquisition for material riches is even linked with the following subject, because God’s nature is to multiply—blessings, and not specifically material wealth (although that can and does happen at times).

Good Seed Has to Multiply

Such a principle as “multiplication” is inherently linked with goodness in God’s kingdom. Goodness grows, just as one kind act begets another and so forth.

Whenever we do good things—those things that God typically blesses, like things for others—we expect them to grow. Abundance is the gospel byword in this way.

We can be sure that God sees—in and through the way of life—and commends not so much us for doing these things, but opportunities for more of that good work to be done.

By This We Know That God is Behind a Venture

Notwithstanding the good ventures that do bellyflop, by far and away the most typical way of life is good things done are multiplied, or at least barriers are removed that could be there that might limit further opportunities for these things.

This is not to say that God’s nature is to bless everything to the same level of abundance or multiplicity. This too, of course, is a mystery—why some things are rewarded more (in our esteem) than others.

We easily become conceited in our ‘successes’ and even if God is given the glory, too often we’re found ‘attached’ to those good things we do and it’s only human that we seek recognition, a.k.a. kudos, for our part in the success.

And, still, for further multiplication of those good things we must resist the adulatory credit. In other words, we can speak of, and discuss, the blessings of ministry for God but what’s not blessed is the ‘receipt’ of glory.

True Multiplicity

We also have some very definite ideas usually for the numerical success we’re hoping to achieve. Again, this is the wrong focus. It is actually Satan’s ploy, for nothing will denigrate our encouragement for God’s bidding more than a focus on numbers.

Like Sheol, the barren womb, a thirsty earth and fire (Proverbs 30:15-16), numbers never really get us to ‘enough’. We’re never satisfied in the numerical realm.

Instead, we should be looking for success on a kingdom level—and you know what, that’s one single life changed or turned around. We don’t have to go far to find the biblical evidence for this. Open up Luke 15 sometime and we quickly find this was one of Jesus’ key points (see verses 7 and 10).

God thinks of us specially, uniquely, uncompromisingly.

God turns the tables on our rather crude forms of assessment of success, as he almost certainly overhauls the ‘metric’ to be used. This is why churches are loath to consider their true success against numbers. It is changed lives—and the quality of those changed lives—that’s most measurable, and most important, for the kingdom of God.

And, yet, it’s a measure and an approach the world cannot ever understand. That’s why we pray for truly godly leaders in executive circles at a church denominational level.

And having said that, as organisms and all things of creation grow, so do the blessings of God, so that his kingdom is further extended into the deeper reaches of need.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

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