“Be fruitful and multiply.” This is one of the most common phrases within our faith. While some take the excerpt from Genesis 1:28 command narrowly within the confines of having children and a family, the rest of the verse is a much broader mandate that talks about subduing the earth and ruling over the fish in the sea, birds in the sky, and every living create that moves on the ground. That’s not an easy command!
Fortunately, we have Holy Spirit—the ultimate counselor—to guide us daily. One of my most frequent petitions to the Lord is to help me fully utilize the Holy Spirit because admittedly it’s easy to fall into the trap of relying on our own capabilities. (That’s ironic since even our very breath comes from the Lord.) But, Holy Spirit will minister to us if we ask. John 14:26 reminds us that “he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” Romans 8:26 says that Holy Spirit even intercedes for us because “we do not know what to pray for as we ought.”
How do we walk in communion with the Lord with the help of Holy Spirit so that we can fulfill the command to be fruitful and multiply? Here are three ideas the Lord revealed to me.
First, leave everyone better off than where they started. We’ll inevitably fail, but that shouldn’t stop us from getting back up. Sometimes we need to be firm, but other times we should give space. In everything, however, we need to be loving (1 Corinthians 16:14). We shouldn’t over complicate this: is the person you’re speaking or working with better off than when they started? In other words, are they wiser, more encouraged, happier, etc.? If not, then we should ask Holy Spirit for guidance.
Second, stretch yourself daily. Heading into the unknown is uncomfortable, but it’s a lot better to be tagging along with the Lord in the deep than to be playing in the kiddie pool without Him. Psalm 84:10 reminds us that “Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.” Especially in America, we are tempted to live in excess and the culture emphasizes feelings above anything else. We need to focus on doing the hard work that the Lord has called us to, which requires reaching for the stars.
Third, take introspection and your assignment seriously. We are all endowed with some talents, but what we do with them is more important than how many we started with. When we learn about the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30, we see that the servant who received five talents was commended just as much as the one who received two because of their obedience in investing the talents. It was the servant who received only one talent and buried it in the ground that was not just scolded, but had his talents taken away and cast into the outer darkness (Matthew 25:30). We need to overcome the fear of failure and realize that it’s a lot worse to never take a step forward than to press ahead, risk making a mistake, and pivoting from it.
As Christ’s ambassadors, we need to bring fruitfulness and multiplication to everything we touch. And, we have the authority to do that through Jesus and the help of Holy Spirit. If that involves a new spiritual posture in our hearts, then let’s do that internal surgery. If that involves revising our habits to our days so that we actually follow through with what we say we’re going to do, then let’s make some practical adjustments. Whatever it is, we have a responsibility to reflect Jesus in all that we do and that means bearing fruit and multiplying what He has endowed.
Written by Christos A. Makridis, Stanford University Alumnus