The Art of Adding by Subtracting


I protest, brothers, by my pride in you, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die every day! ~ Apostle Paul (1 Corinthians 15:31 ESV)

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. ~ Apostle Paul (Galatians 2:20 ESV)

What was Paul’s seeming obsession with death? “Dying daily” and “Crucified with Christ” are very descriptive, and honestly, a little depressing if read out of context. But Paul discovered an important principle of growth and advancement of God’s divine purpose in our lives; in order to bring certain things to life, one must allow a part of themselves to die.

Think about what Christ’s death on Calvary provided the world. Jesus came to “bring life more abundantly” (John 10:10). The only way for this abundant life to come to pass was through His death. We can look at this from a variety of angles, but for the purpose of this post, when we’re willing to let something die, it makes room for God to bring something to life. Jesus vividly illustrated this point when he taught His disciples:

Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. (John 12:24 KJV)

I don’t pretend to understand exactly how this works, but I know about the law of saturation. Our lives can only handle so much. We juggle priorities, or what we think are priorities, we shift responsibilities, and we struggle to keep up. We lack margin in our lives but margin is where we get rest. Margin is where we create. Margin is where we can add new habits, new discoveries, new insight, and even new relationships. One such relationship that continuously requires cultivating is our relationship with God. But God is not content to dwell in just the margins of our lives.

God refuses to compete with any-ONE or any-THING. This means something has to give; something must die. If you re-read Paul’s first quote above, you’ll find he made this a daily discipline. He “died daily.” Something must be sacrificed daily. It was true in Old Testament days, and still rings true in our personal devotions to God. A part of ourselves must die daily that more of God can be revealed. This is a discipline devoted and devout followers of Christ know well. Like John the Baptist said, “I must decrease, and He must increase.”

So, my question is, what are you willing to allow to die in order to give life to a fresh relationship with God? What part of yourself are you willing to crucify to allow the reality of Christ’s love to flourish and abound in your life? What will you sacrifice daily to make room for more of God in your life?

The beauty of this is, when we allow something to die, God brings something more meaningful and powerful to life in us. And, this my friend, is the art of adding by subtracting. 

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