Sunday, April 30, 2017

"BE" is an action verb!

"Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love." Ephesians 4:2

I memorized this verse this week and I love to think about these words. If I could live according to this Scripture, Christ would be seen in me every day! At our Monday Night Bible Study this year, we focused on inductive Bible study. I actually learned to study this way at college 45+ years ago. Also, someone very close to me a very long time ago sat down and showed me how to use some pretty handy tools in order to help with word studies. So essentially, I have studied this way for quite awhile.

It was really good to be challenged every week since early September to take a passage of Scripture and dissect it, tear it apart, examine it, and ask God to help me understand it and USE it to change my life. And God was very good to do exactly that.

Ephesians 4:1-16 is the last passage we studied for the semester, and now it is over. But I have decided, since I love to study this way SO much, that I am going to continue all during our break and go back to the passages we already studied (but never came close to finishing) and continue to work on them--this will help to keep me focused on Christ during our break.

So this verse is beautiful in about a thousand ways and I'll just share a little about what I learned as I studied ... word for word.

"Be" is an ACTION verb. You know, it is one of the 23 auxiliary helping verbs (to quote my 7th grade English teacher: "Is, am, are, was, were, BE, being, been, have, has, had, do, does, did, shall, will, should, could, may, might, must, can, could." (Mrs. Passalaqua made us memorize those 23 little verbs!).

"BE" is NOT passive. Do you understand? It is not just a passing thought or a nice attitude, it is putting into ACTION what follows.

"Completely" according to Webster means "totally." This is not a half-and-half, some days yes and some days no, wishy-washy thing. Paul did not say to be "somewhat" humble and gentle. He did not say to be "partially" humble and gentle. He said to be ALL THE WAY humble and gentle.

"Humble" in this verse means "lowliness of mind." Webster defines humble as NOT proud, NOT haughty, NOT pretentious; it is unassuming and insignificant. Synonymns would be: meek, modest, lowly. A passage that speaks to this kind of humility is Philippians 2. In verse three Paul says this: "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than ourselves." And he goes on in verse four to say: "Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others." And those very familiar verses that follow talk about Christ like this: "Your attitude should be the same as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being mae in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death--even death on a cross."  Christ's example is a tall order, isn't it? But yet, this is the attitude He desires for us to have.

"Be completely humble." "BE completely GENTLE." What does this word "gentle" mean? Well, this is a tricky word because there is no English equivalent to the Greek word [praotes]. According to Vine (in his Expository Dictionary of NT Words), when thought of in context to our attitude towards God "it is that temper of spirit in which we accept His dealings with us as GOOD and therefore without disputing or resisting; it is closely related to the word HUMILITY." Isn't that interesting? PLUS, this word [praotes] is NOT a word of weakness, quite the opposite. It is a very STRONG word. It takes a lot of strength to be MEEK. We can be MEEK because we have a GREAT GOD who is in control of every circumstance in our lives. Jesus was "meek and lowly of heart" but He was NOT weak. 

I like this quote from Vine as well: "This Greek word is opposite to self-assertiveness and self-interest. It is equanimity of spirit that is neither elated or cast down simply because it is not occupied with SELF AT ALL." Simply put, it is NOT about me! 

"Be patient." Remember BE is an action word! It DOES something. The word "patient" in this Scripture is translated from the Greek word [makrothumios]. "Makro" meaning LONG and "thumos" meaning TEMPER. So, BE LONG-TEMPERED! Don't get angry quickly. Don't have a short fuse! I like this so much! It is very much the same as the word, "long-suffering." "Long suffering is that quality of self-restraint in the face of provocation which does not hastily retaliate or promptly punish. It is opposite of ANGER and associated with MERCY." (Vine) Our God is this very word! "The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, SLOW TO ANGER, abounding in love and faithfulness." Exodus 34:6.

"Bearing with one another ..." What does the word "bearing" mean? In the KJV it is translated "forbearing" and the Greek word is [anechomai], literally "to hold SELF back." It is a word that is closely related to long-suffering (again!). It is looking past people's faults. It is not quickly judging. It is overlooking annoyances. It is a beautiful word for parents (and grandparents), don't you think? 

And HOW do we bear with one another? HOW?

Ah. The word "love" here is [agapao] the highest form of love. It is a "deep and constant love of a perfect God towards totally unworthy objects." (Vine)  It is a "no matter what" kind of love. It is Unconditional. 

BE. BE is an ACTION WORD. It is NOT PASSIVE. COMPLETE is not PARTLY. These words defined are amazing and I want to LIVE them.

I am super thankful for this year's Monday Night Bible Study. It got me back to studying Scripture like I used to do it, AND it has been so encouraging and comforting and powerful in my life. God's Word is alive and life-changing. Thank you, Lord!

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