Everyone desires increase. This desire is often summarised by the phrase – “The more the merrier.” Increase is a good thing, after all we are commanded to be fruitful and multiply (Genesis1:28). However, the challenge with the desire for increase is that it is unending. This causes a problem because humans are clueless about the optimal level of increase. Sooner than later the desire for increase begins to hamper their blessedness.
What is Blessedness?
Blessedness means a state of supreme happiness. It is the target of the desire for increase. We desire increase not for the sake of increase but for the purpose of blessedness.
What is Subtraction?
In the context of this article, subtraction is a composite concept. It means deduction, reduction, exclusion, pruning, forgetting, ‘dying’, giving, sharing, withdrawal, etc. It is to bring down quantitatively by removing a part from the whole or, as in the case of dying, removing the whole!
Blessedness and Subtraction
Subtraction paves the way for blessedness because it tempers our desire for increase in order to attain and sustain blessedness.
The ‘Whys’ of Subtraction
- It creates room for more.
There is a limit to increase, which results in blessedness. Put differently, there is an optimal level of increase and desire for increase that brings about blessedness.
For instance, there is an optimal number of good friends that an adult human can manage effectively. It is called ‘social channel capacity.’ The social channel capacity is 150. Beyond this number, some of the relationships begin to deteriorate.
It is the imperative of creating room for more that informed apostle Paul statement in Philippians 3:13 – “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.” It was in forgetting that he uncluttered his mind to imagine the desired future.
- Life does not consist in an abundance of possessions (Luke 12:15)
By the above statement, Jesus meant there is more to life than possessions or the desire for possessions. Therefore, it is a misplacement of priority to judge the essence of human life by quantities of things.
Biblical perspectives on Subtraction
- God is a vinedresser
In John 15:1, Jesus referred to God the Father as a vinedresser who prunes branches that bear fruit so they will produce even more!
Though the above sounds counterintuitive, that is the way it is. It underscores what we are talking about.
- Gideon and his army
The story of how Gideon went out to fight the Midianites with 32,000 soldiers in Judges chapter 7 gives an interesting perspective on humans preoccupation with quantity/number. It took God’s intervention to correct Gideon’s mind-set that victory is in number.
The Ways of Subtraction
Most of the ways of subtraction are outside human control. God brings them about in the lives of those who are totally yielded to Him. However, there are two ways leading to blessedness that are within human control: giving and sharing.
Do you want to be blessed? Then, give your money, time and effort for the benefit of others. Also share ideas and resources with others.
“It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).