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Friday, March 31, 2017

Step Up, Step Out, and Step In

I have always been… shall we say… a little exuberant when describing exciting things that things that have happened to me.  My wife would probably tell you that I’ve even been known to exaggerate a bit!  I can clearly picture her looking at me with that cute little crooked smile when I would be sharing a story, and just waiting until she got my full attention.  Then she would shake her head and say, with a little tingle of joy in her voice, “Now Jim, don’t exaggerate!”  And I would immediately respond with a sigh, “well maybe it wasn’t quite as dramatic as that… but…”

But you know?  As I read through the epistles of St Paul, I am coming to realize that I am in some good company with him when it comes to embellishing our points!  One of the online dictionaries defines the technique of “embellishing” as “making something  more attractive by the addition of decorative details or features.”  Take for instance the verse that we have been discussing in the blog this week from Ephesians 3:17 where Paul prays “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love…”

In my last post I talked about how both of the words “rooted” and “grounded” are very similar if not identical in some uses in the original Greek language that Paul corresponded with.  Both Strong’s and Thayer’s use the word “stable” as part of their definitions of the word.  And as you study Paul’s writings, you’ll notice that this is a common practice of his.  Someone once explained that he doubles up his explanatives in order to accentuate certain points in his teachings.

Another couple of examples of this would be found a few verses down in Ephesians 3:20 where Paul describes the power of God to work in our behalf as being exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think” (NKJV) or in reference to God’s grace in I Timothy 1:14 where he also declares it to be exceedingly abundant…” (MKJV)   Robert’s Word Pictures describes these as “late and rare double compounds”  The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges states that these “Strong expressions of largeness, excess, (and) abundance, are deeply characteristic of Paul.”

So, you see… I was just copying my brother Paul… in fact, Jesus did it too!  If you remember… when talking about the return on our giving unto the Gospel, He described it as “pressed down, shaken together and running over…” (Luke 6:38 KJV), therefore I wasn’t exaggerating… I was just “accentuating certain points” in my story!

Okay… I can just see Piper shaking her head again as I try that explanation of my story telling techniques to her… but my antics sure helped to hold the attention of the kids in our Children’s Church classes over the years!

But going back to Paul’s point of being “rooted and grounded in (God’s agape) love,”  I believe that he was using this double compound to accentuate the point of the importance of being super stable on the rock-steady foundation of God’s love as we walk through the events of our daily lives!  That word “being” in the verse infers “the quality or state of having existence,” or exhibiting a quality of “something that actually exists” (in our lives). (Merriam-Webster)  In other words, it’s not just something that you talk about, but is something that you live through your daily actions and deeds.

The Apostle John, who is called the Apostle of Love, puts it best in his teachings by saying “Dear Children, we must show love through actions that are sincere; not through empty words.”  (God’s Word ©)  The Easy to Read Version says that “Our love must be real.  We must show our love by the things we do.” 

According to Paul, it takes a double compound foundation of God’s love for us to be able to successfully navigate the tricky paths and switchbacks that we must walk in this life!  When you put that thought to work in your life, then to love others is an easier path to walk than we might otherwise think.  To me, Love In Action means the confident (I didn’t say easy – but In His Love we can be confident) ability to:

·         Stand Up and acknowledge that we need to love others in need

·         Step Out of our comfort zone (ie; putting their needs before ours) &

·         Step In to someone else’s life in order to make a physical difference

Simple right?  Well… I think if it was that simple then Paul wouldn’t have needed to double accentuate his teaching on love… wouldn’t you say?  But while it might not be simple, he makes the point that it is something we not only CAN but SHOULD do!

I encourage you to think on that this weekend.  If need be, go back and review the last few blog posts to encourage yourselves!  - Then take a chance… and Step Up, Step Out and then Step In to love someone around you in need!  Have a great weekend, and as you do, keep asking yourselves… “How am I expecting to LOVE someone today?”

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