Addition and subtraction are two of the first math skills taught in school. It usually follows number recognition and counting in most elementary classroom curricula. At this stage, parents, teacher, and students alike all celebrate this skill coming to life in the mind of the child. Although it is not my goal to rain on the parade of educators and parents, it is my goal to have you consider the following: we were born with a natural ability to add and subtract. Thank you, parents and educators, for being dedicated to helping us all enhance this skill. But, truth be told, you weren’t exactly starting from scratch. Have you ever heard someone say, “You don’t have to teach a child how to be selfish”? Well, that’s not the only thing we humans don’t need a formal education to learn. Addition and subtraction are also skills we are born with. We may not become math experts without lessons and practice, but we will always know how to add and subtract to some degree.
The first word math problem ever was written back in Genesis chapters 2 and 3.
In Genesis chapter 2 verses 16 and 17 we read that God said the following to Adam: “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”
However, in chapter 3 we read that Eve said to the serpent, “. . . God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”
Just as interesting is the serpent’s response to Eve: “You will not certainly die . . .”
Did you see that! Consider what God said. Consider what Eve said God said. Consider what the serpent implies God said. Bam: addition and subtraction.
Eve added to the restriction and the serpent subtracted the consequence. No formal lesson, just natural skill at work.
How often do we wallow in all the stuff we feel we “can’t do?” As adults, we see it vividly in children. “We can’t do NOTHING!!!” they exclaim (incorrect grammer and all). We know the reality is, there is PLENTY they can do. They are just so blinded by the idea that they are missing out on some worthwhile pleasure by not being allowed to do that one certain thing, that they exaggerate and their emotions respond accordingly.
We too have a tendency to consciously or subconsciously add to and subtract from what God says.
As a result, what do we end up with?
We get these ideas that God has restricted us from this and that all the while Satan is telling us that if we do engage in this and that, surely, we will not die. Stop adding and subtracting from God’s commands and start processing what he actually says. God said we are “free . . .” Free to choose to follow Him. Free to choose good over evil. Free to accept His gift of eternal life. Free to live eternally with Him in Heaven. Free to live an abundant life here on Earth in the meantime. Free.
Add up all of God’s love. Add up His grace. Add up His mercy. Add up all of the “ways out of now ways” He has created. Then subtract the penalty of death that Jesus took and added upon Himself and what do we end up with?