The multiplier is the thing that multiplies. But what multiplies what, and to what degree?

Let’s look at this from an economic perspective. “In economics, a multiplier is a factor of proportionality that measures how much an endogenous variable changes in response to a change in some exogenous variable. For example, suppose variable x changes by 1 unit, which causes another variable y to change by M units. Then the multiplier is M. (Wikipedia, multiplier)

Suppose we consider a “multiplier theorem” applicable to the human drama of our souls. The scriptures draw many pictures that reveal the impact of the “multiplier.” What you think or believe is what you are. And such is multiplied (factored) into all the issues of life and eternity.   Further, for our consideration, the Bible gives examples of both the tragic and the victorious consequences of men’s desires. Few passages are more powerful than 1 John 2:15: “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” Or we might think about the cast-out devil who comes back with seven cohorts to make the delivered soul worse than ever (Matthew 12:45). Matthew Henry provides an interesting comment on this lesson, suggesting we take it as a warning to the church:

“Let this be a warning to all nations and churches, to take heed of leaving their first love, of letting fall a good work of reformation begun among them, and returning to that wickedness which they seemed to have forsaken; for the last state of such will be worse than the first.”

But back to our main thought, the multiplier theorem. As a pastor, what I deal with most is that which is underneath all the efforts, behind all the issues, prevalent in the worship, and woven into all relationships: namely, the unspoken “really real” issues, attitudes, feelings, ambitions, intentions, worldliness, carnality and motivations of the heart. These are win or lose factors. They are the endogenous (internal) components that are subject to external multipliers. If hatred exists, for example, it may be multiplied in its intensity by negative outside forces. If racial prejudices are in one’s heart, they likely will be fanned and multiplied by certain multipliers that appeal to that specific evil. I must monitor this constantly. I must fight against all evil attitudes that can be manipulated and multiplied to the destruction of many. And I must concurrently emphasize the power of the good because it too may be multiplied and thereby bless the kingdom of God.

Endogenous, then, denotes the internal factors that may be multiplied by an exogenous (external) multiplier. The good or the bad may be influenced by certain outside forces. The opportunity for employment in a certain community is multiplied by a new factory to the degree that the multiplier can find qualified workers. The community loses opportunity when an employer leaves the community; thus it multiplies unemployment to the degree that units or jobs that are taken out of the community. The multiplier multiplies what is subject to the influence of the multiplier.

Our endogenous (internal) emotions (love, hate), our values, our convictions, our beliefs, our political views and so forth are potentially changeable – they are variable. They are subject to influences. And indeed they are influenced by various and variable exogenous or external factors. This should cause us to examine our hearts, asking ourselves what attracts us … what draws upon our hearts? Christ? The world?

When we set standards for our churches and evaluate our positions on this or that, should we not consider whether this will become a multiplier? Of course it will, and for certain. That’s the point. The multiplier is a fact of life. Therefore, we ask, to what and to what degree? “The true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him” (John 4:23).

We must carefully explore, then, what is in our hearts. Is it good or evil, holiness or worldliness, truth or compromise? Because the things or the persons that are the multipliers will multiply our predisposed position to our ruin or to our gain. If I, as a pastor, either by intentional action or by default, encourage or tolerate a love for the world, then I can expect my church to die.

The destiny of our souls lies in our humility and our love for the truth. “And the father seeketh such to worship him.” And the devil? He “walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8).

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