How to Increase Through Decrease

The Christian life is full of paradox; apparent contradictions. The doctrine of the Trinity is chief among these paradoxes, but there are many others. How do many members become one body and not lose their identity as individuals? How do husband and wife make one flesh and also not lose their identity as individuals? How does God ordain everything that comes to pass without doing violence to the will of His creatures? These mysteries are means of exhibiting the necessity of faith and demonstrating the transcending Holiness of our God who is Three in One. We believe so we can understand, as Augustine wrote. We live standing on the promises of God.

Another paradox that stems from God’s very nature is the principle of gaining by losing; growth through death; increase through decrease.  God increases His glory by giving it away. Every person of the Trinity demonstrates this principle. It is at the heart of the Community of Love. Jesus said that anyone who loses his life gains it (Matthew 10:39). This is not some trick or stumbling contradiction meant to frustrate us. It is God’s reality and He demonstrates this principle over and over again.

The Father gave His Son to gain a people (John 3:16). The Son gave His life to gain a crown (Hebrews 12:2). The Father and Son gave their Spirit to gain a church, a world; a kingdom (Acts1:8; Romans 8:14; Ephesians 2:22). The Spirit gives free and abundant access to throne of God to everyone  ordained by the Father and saved by the Son. The Spirit does not withhold, doesn’t horde and does not restrain union and communion with the Father or the Son (Romans 8:15, 15:13; Titus 3:5; 1 Peter 1:12). The Sprit is generous in His ministry.

As I have said throughout this class, Jesus came to reveal who God is and always has been. Jesus did not teach new things, but revealed the reality that had always been. He did not come to become the Son, but to show us that He had always been the Son. Christ did not come to experience the life of the cross, but to show us the life of the cross. Jesus wants us to imitate God, who always gains by losing; who always increases through decreasing.

Now, this is in direct contradiction to man’s view of gain. Capitalism is deeply ingrained in our minds. By hard work, saving, frugality and material prudence we think we are going to become rich. The reaction to loose financial living is priggish hording. The problem with this way of thinking is that it isn’t how God created the world to work. I am not saying that we gain by opening the window on our moving car and letting our money fly to the wind, nor do I mean we gain by gambling or entering risky financial schemes. Financial conservatism and careful bookkeeping are righteous and good, but only if you are saving more to give more.

In fact, I am not talking just about money or even mere materialism. Do you want more happiness? Give some happiness. You want love? Give it. But I am also not talking about doling out and counting up; as if we should oversee our relationships and lives like accountants. Give with reckless abandon. Give like there is no tomorrow, because there may not be. Do not worry about tomorrow (Matthew 6:24) and do not worry about returns. God said the second greatest commandment was to love your neighbor as yourself, not to be loved. We are stingy because we are needy. But we draw close to God, to limitless Love if we obey Him; what He has commanded of us is to give and to love. Don’t be anxious about receiving, be anxious about praying, about believing and about submitting to God.

Matthew 6:31-33 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Mark 12:41-44 And he sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. And he called his disciples to him and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”

If you want ultimate love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control you will not receive these from men but you will receive them from God. The point of doing something kind is not the return that your kindness may encourage. We give to GIVE and the result is that we gain blessings from the Lord. Even if you give away your love to the unlovely and receive nothing in return, you are gaining the good pleasure of your King.

Matthew 25:31-46 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Think beyond money. Give joy to others. Give your service to others. Give your life to God. Give it away and lose it and you will gain it and gain it to its fullest forever. What you seek to gain, first give and give abundantly. For it says in 2nd Corinthians 9:6, “the point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” What do you need more than anything? The Love of the Triune God. That is what has been offered to you through the blood of Christ and the baptism of the Holy Spirit. What does the world need more than anything? The Love of the Triune God; the community of love. What do you possess in abundance? The love of the Triune God. See how this works? You are equipped with what the world needs most and have access to the throne of God to obey and do the things of God that you do not possess the power to do in yourself. Sow the love of the Triune God and do not sow sparingly.

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