What words come to mind when you think of the Bible?

The answers will vary vastly for people, depending on their opinion of “religion” and spirituality. Some will have positive words come to mind. Some will not. Most everyone will think of God, I would imagine, because whether they believe in him or not, it’s a word associated with the Bible. Many will think of Jesus. Hopefully many will think of love. And some will think of rules: “Thou shalt not."

For me, lately, I’ve been thinking of the word “multiply” when I think of the Bible. Now I’ve got to admit, “multiplication” is not a word which gives me any warm fuzzies. Pretty much anything with a math connotation is the opposite of that in my mind. I have, in fact, been heard to say that it’s a good thing I married an engineer because all of my children are good at math, which is definitely not a skill they inherited from their mother.

But when it comes to the Bible and multiplying, I’m on a little firmer ground, noetically. When I think of the word “multiply” in the Bible, I think right off of Genesis: “be fruitful and multiply”. Adam and Eve (and the animals, too) were told by God to have lots of children, to multiply themselves across the whole earth.

So right from the start — the very fist chapter in the Bible — multiplying was important. In fact, 36 of 80 uses of the word “increase” — the NIV translation of “multiply” — are about growing families or growing the population of Israel!

The concept continues on into the New Testament, but there, rather than multiplying our physical genes, we’re to multiply our spiritual genes. In other words, we’re to have “spiritual children” as we lead people to a saving knowledge of Jesus.

Matthew 28:18-20 is what is known as “The Great Commission”. In this passage Jesus commissions his disciples (the men and women who followed his teaching) to “go and make [more] disciples”. They were commanded — and by extension so are we — to multiply themselves spiritually. These were Jesus’ last words on earth. So from almost the first words in the Bible to Jesus’ last words while on earth, he was concerned with multiplication!

Multiplying. Increasing. Growing. Clearly, it’s a biblical idea. One way to grow spiritually, I truly believe, is through coming together from time to time to study and fellowship and learn under the teaching of a speaker who shares from the word of God from his or her heart.

I’m very excited that in just a few short weeks we’ll be having our third annual Women Seeking God conference to encourage this very thing! Our word for this year — in case you haven’t guessed — is “Multiply”! We will look at how to multiply growth, generosity, gifts and grace. Our speaker is Dr. Tara Rye from Omaha, whom I heard speak last winter, and we’re very excited to have her join us. The dates for this year’s event are Nov. 15 and 16, and we’ll be meeting this year at American Lutheran Church in Worthington. If you have any questions or want to sign up, you can call Love INC at 727-7290 or go to Women Seeking God: Multiply on Facebook.

Another passage I found on this concept of multiplying is 2 Corinthians 9:6-15 which says, in part, “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed…Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness.” I want the harvest of my righteousness to increase! What a wonderful phrase and an even greater concept.

Please consider joining us for the conference. I promise there won’t be any math involved.

Gretchen O’Donnell is a freelance writer who lives in Worthington with her husband and three children. She has a master’s degree from Bethel Seminary and enjoys writing about the things she sees and applying theological truths to everyday situations. Her column, The Disheveled Theologian, is published weekly. Her email is gcodon@gmail.com.