Archive for February 26th, 2012
Thanks to Mark Klaasen in a comment to Bill Johnson, I need to make some corrections to the February 12, 2012 Today’s Word. Mark pointed out that the actual word in this verse is the verb makrothumeo, not the noun makrothumia. I should have made it clear that the verb is derived from the noun and therefore I want to understand what the noun means. My discussion of the noun makrothumia captures what I believe Paul had in mind when he used this verb.
In that same Today’s Word, I made a true mistake by claiming that the verb is passive (the fourth paragraph). It is active, not passive. What I meant to say is this: “The theological sense of makrothumia is both active and passive. It is active in the sense that I deliberately choose to wait no matter how long it takes. This is active spiritual obedience. I decide to behave like God. But “Love is patient” does not mean active endurance, as though I am called to exercise my mental and emotional muscles to attain that higher plane of ethical action. Biblical makrothumia is not the Greek idea of gritting my teeth and white-knuckling through life. Makrothumia is active in relation to God’s call, but it is passive in relation to the demands on others.”
I have corrected the February 12 edition. I hope that you will do the same with your copies. I am sorry about this. Of course, I don’t believe that this changes anything about the sense of makrothumia or the meaning behind Paul’s famous “love” passage, but it wasn’t linguistically accurate. Thanks, Mark, for keeping me on my toes.
for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. 1 Samuel 16:7 NASB
Heart – This is only a part of verse 7, but a very important part. Even more interestingly, the translation from the New American Standard (above) is not exactly what the literal translation says. Literally, the verse says, “for man does not see what he sees. For man looks for the eyes but Yahweh looks for the heart.” The Hebrew word is lev. While it can mean the human organ “heart”, in most of its uses in the Old Testament, it refers to the immaterial makeup of a person – what later ages would call “soul” or “personality”. The Old Testament usage attributes a wide range of human emotions to the heart, including love, loyalty, joy, conscience, anger, fear, anxiety and many more. The heart is the center of a man’s will, thoughts and emotions. In modern terms, we would say that the heart represents our real (usually hidden) self.
Notice that God tells Samuel that men do not see what they think they see. They look at the outward appearance and make judgments on that basis. Even when men gather personal information and insights about you, they still do not know everything there is to know about who you really are. But God is different. He puts no stock in outward appearance. He looks for the real self, the inner being of who we are. Implicit in this idea is the fact that God alone knows us thoroughly. Nothing is hidden from Him. Most of us would rather not have anyone know all about us. There are thoughts and deeds that each of us would rather keep secret. God knows them all. Amazingly, in spite of this complete knowledge of who we are, He stands ready to accept us exactly as we are. The greatest fear is this: if you knew all about me, you wouldn’t love me. God says just the opposite: I know all about you and I love you.
Some of us have a hard time believing that this can be true. After all, we know ourselves pretty well. We know how many times we have broken promises, betrayed trust, acted with selfish motives, lied, deceived, grieved others. We know that all those past acts present a formidable picture of a very imperfect human being. And, if the truth were told, we would probably not want to be associated with someone like us. But God sees something we don’t see. He sees the work of His hands in who we are. He sees us as we ought to be, as we were intended to be. And that is lovely indeed.
Abraham Heschel once asked the great question for anyone who pursues God: “What does God demand of me?” There is a question that comes before the Heschel’s. It is this: Will I let Him love me?
Topical Index: 1 Samuel 16:7, heart, lev, love