Wednesday, July 16, 2014
Staying Stretched to the Max in Love! - - - - - - - - I Peter 4:8-11; Good Morning Girls, Week 7, Tuesday
"Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins." (I Peter 4:8 - NAS)
Well....... ya know, the first part of this verse doesn't seem terribly difficult in the English: it could be restated loosely by saying, 'the most important thing to do is to keep the light of love alive for the brethren'.......
But what does that have to do with love covering a multitude of sins?
Certainly Christ's sacrifice was made with fervent love....., and we should be like Him, but is there perhaps more to this than meets the eye...... What about context within this chapter and this letter? What about the Greek?
Well, let's back up to I Peter 4:1, in which Peter tells us that Christ 'suffered'. By clicking on the Strong's number for 'pathontos', we can realize how clearly it is said in this verse that His suffering was brought upon Him by others in this broken and fallen world, and that His suffering is something which He felt very, very deeply.
The same verse goes on to say that we should be of this mind: that we should be *willing* to allow suffering from this broken world to be brought upon our flesh from the brokenness in the world outside of ourselves, and that we should feel that pain deeply whenever God allows that brokenness to weigh heavily upon us.
More importantly, the one having suffered (in the) flesh is empowered to be able to be finished with sin. So much so, that, according to I Peter 4:2, the one who has suffered, if he has been obedient to 'be of this same mind' of Christ........, will be able to devote his time to the will of God without being drawn into men's lusts. Ode to remaining in 'this same mind'........, in order to avoid adding unnecessarily fulfilling further the 'desire of the Gentiles' I Peter 4:3.
Oh, my soul, I would that mankind would no longer fulfill the 'desire of the Gentiles'! But all too many still desire to fulfill those inclinations. They even think it is strange that believers do not seek the desires of the Gentiles I Peter 4:4, not realizing that they will have to give account of the fulfillment of their desires one day I Peter 4:5.
But that's just it, God has been merciful because they did not realize fully what they have chased after; they were 'dead' to the truth!
And here is where He lets us be a part of the solution! Men who have been *willing* to allow the suffering from this broken world to be brought upon their flesh in such a way that they felt the pain deeply - with the same mind as Christ...... those men have been sent to warn those who still seek to fulfill the 'desire of the Gentiles'! Those men have been sent so that they might live according to God in the Spirit!
But no man can be 'of this mind' on his own. No man can 'be of this mind' without Christ changing his heart to a heart of flesh. When Christ removes the dead heart of stone from within a man, and replaces it with a living heart of flesh, then that 'heart transplant' helps that man to truly live and to 'be of this mind' of Christ........
But not everyone has received this heart of flesh!
So many around us need the life that comes only through this 'heart transplant'!
'The end has drawn near, therefore be sober minded, and be watchful for the purpose of prayers.' (I Peter 4:7)
And here, the context begins to become more and more clear........
We see that this phrase, 'above all, keep fervent in your love for one another' is couched in the middle of these two phrases:
'Be watchful for the purpose of prayers....... ......... because love covers a multitude of sins.'? (I Peter 4:7b, 8b)
But how can our love combined with prayers aid in the covering of a multitude of sins? Isn't Jesus the Great High Priest, whose sacrifice took care of the sins of the beloved who receive His grace through His gift of faith, available to us through His sacrifice?
Is the hymn wrong? "Jesus did it all! All to Him I owe!"?
Well, yes, Jesus did it all. But for whatever all reasons, God wants us to be like Jesus! He wants us to imitate His love for others! And when we do, He celebrates our finally 'knowing good and evil' the only healthy way possible:
---to be broken, suffering, taking on the pain of mankind's brokenness in order to spare others' as much of the suffering as possible - able to bear one another's burdens only because of His *plan* of grace!
Back in the Garden of Eden, when we rebelled against God and ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and evil? Yes, back then, knowing good and evil broke our hearts - and our hearts died! We had dead, stone hearts! Our hearts broke, and rigamortis set in so deeply that our hearts became stone! That's what 'knowing good and evil' our way did for us!
But knowing God's *heart* of grace not only for ourselves, but for others, helps us to face 'knowing good and evil' with a heart of flesh.
A heart of flesh will still suffer under the 'knowledge of good and evil', just as Christ's heart of flesh suffered for us on the cross!
A heart of flesh will not become a broken heart though, it will be 'brokenhearted' for others, but not broken, lifeless, stone cold, deadness!
Christ was brokenhearted for us! He truly suffered in the flesh of his brokenhearted state - - - for us!
We ought to be the same mind for others: brokenhearted for them! Willing to feel their pain, to bear their burdens as much as they will allow us to...........
In this brokenhearted state, in which we suffer the pain inflicted upon our heart of flesh by those whose hearts are dead, broken stone, our hearts can bear the burdens of others' sins before the throne of grace...... bearing the burden of sin directly to the High Priest, ...........
And here, we begin to see how, in verse 7, the 'purpose of prayers' begins to be made more clear......
We are to be priests before God, joining Jesus, the High Priest, our holy advocate, as He advocates for the forgiveness of a multitude of sins! (verse 8b)
So, that is the context of this verse: "Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another."''
It is becoming more clear!!!
But what of the original text? Are there more clues which bring the light and life of these words into clearer focus?
Hmmmmm, in Greek, the word which we render as 'fervent' is a compound word: ektenes: with its parts being:
ek - 'wholly out'
tenes - 'stretched - without slack' (related to 'tension')
Really? Keep Stretched to the Max in Love!?!
Wow! How many trainers would think that it is wise to keep a muscle stretched to the max all of the time?
But maybe we should check out 'keep' in the Greek too?
Hmmmm, in the Greek, there are two words which were rendered as these three words in English: 'Above all, keep'...... They are pro panton: with 'pro' meaning 'before,' and panton having its roots in 'pas' meaning 'every part of the totality'!
So, thus far, we have 'before every part of the totality..........love, stretched out to the max'!
There is 'echontes', which is translated best as 'you having/holding/possessing'.
Then just the 'eis heautous' perhaps best translated as 'in/among yourselves'.....
So putting it all back together:
'Before every part of the totality, you having/holding/possessing love, stretched out to the max, in/among yourselves.'
So..... going back to the NASB: "Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another'....... the word 'keep' is meaningful: having/holding/possessing..... that's all an ongoing thing!
Staying, and staying, and staying stretched to the Max in love! ........ in love which is in/among us all......... STRETCHED TO ALL OF US........ STRETCHED TO THE MAX SO IT REACHES ALL OF US.......... ALL OF THE TIME, BEFORE EVERY PART OF THE TOTALITY......!!!!!
Oh, my soul........ that is so difficult........... Have you ever seen this done right?!?
But all things are possible to those who love Him!
Dear Father, OUR Father, help us to help each other keep that love stretched out to the max - stretched so fully that it reaches all of us all of the time, before every bit of the totality of time....... remembering the purpose of prayer: prayer from the heart of flesh which you have given to us, and which you will place in all who put their faith in you........ prayer that love, as it stretches out amongst us all, all of the time, covereth a multitude of sins, as we pray for the lost, for those moments when our flesh wishes to go back and fulfill the 'desire of Gentiles'....... and so forth.....
Help us to 'be of the same mind as Christ', feeling the broken heartedness in our new heart of flesh, brokenheartedness for the pain which we all feel because of the horrid things done by hearts of stone.......
And as we feel some small part of the brokenheartedness which Christ bore on the cross, as we bear others' burdens before your mercy seat, seeking the Advocate, that His grace may take yet another fallen man in his heart broken state, and humble him, giving him a heart of flesh and allowing that heart of flesh to feel the heartbreak of life........., thereby becoming heartbroken.........
..........that he too may begin to recognize the intense need for us to intercede for the saints who are, and who are yet to be called........ to faith........ and that he too may begin to share the love, which we need to hold/possess more faithfully amongst all of us, each and every one of us, all of the time, before every it of the totality of this life...............
.......Staying Stretched to the Max - - - - in Love - - - - all of us....... together.....!!!!!