Paul's Passing Thoughts

What is Love?

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on February 11, 2016

“Love (agape) suffereth long, and is kind; love (agape) envieth not; love (agape) vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Love (agape) never faileth:”
~ 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

This passage of scripture is one of the most well-know sections of the Bible. It is most often referred to as the great love chapter, and often the chapter is used in the context of marriage. And while it certainly has application to married couples, the apostle Paul had a much larger context in mind when he began his treatise.

The context actually begins in chapter 12 and extends through chapter 14 of 1 Corinthians. Paul was addressing a specific problem in the assemblies in Corinth and the province of Achaia. The issue was with regard to spiritual gifts among believers, and there were those who regarded certain gifts as more important or of higher esteem than others. More specifically, the Corinthians viewed tongues as the most important gift, and so if you didn’t speak in tongues, then you were considered a lower-class of believer. As a result, everyone wanted to speak in tongues. In 1 Corinthians 12:31 he said you earnestly covet the best gifts (or what they thought were the best). But Paul rebuked them by showing them that this was not loving behavior. This is what prompts the apostle to launch into his in-depth dissertation on the definition and characteristics of love. Let’s consider each one of these characteristics in detail.

“Suffereth long”
μακροθυμει (mak-roth-oo-my) – To be long-spirited. Forbearing or patient. Love hangs in there for the long run.

“Is kind”
χρηστευνεται (chray-styoo-neh-tie) – Derived from the word χρηομαι (chray-oh-my), having to do with the hand in a sense where one is furnishing that which is needed. “Lending a hand”. To show oneself useful. Acting useful. Benevolent. Love does what is needed for another’s benefit.

“Envieth not”
ου ζηλοι (oo dzay-loy) – “oo” being the negative particle meaning “no” or “not”. “Dzay-loy” is derived from the word which means “heat”. To be boiling with heat. Zeal in an unfavorable sense. “Hot headed”; petulant. Love does not behave like a petulant child who doesn’t get his way.

“Vaunteth not itself”
ου περπερευεται (per-per-you-eh-tie) – The prefix “peri” has the meaning of going beyond or further. The double use of “per” in this word gives emphasis of going farther beyond what is necessary, which is what a braggart does. Giving oneself more honor than one should; elevating oneself. Love does not boast, brag, or elevate itself.

“Is not puffed up”
ου φυσιουται (foo-see-oo-tie) – From the root word φυω (foo-oh) meaning to swell up or grow. To inflate or puff up. Used figuratively, to become proud. Love is not proud.

“Doth not behave itself unseemly”
ουκ ασχημονει (ah-schay-mo-nie) – A compound word with the negative particle “a” meaning “no” or “without” and a derivative of two closely related words; εχω (ech-oh) which means to possess some ability, and σχημα (schay-ma) which is some figure, form, or pattern. Literally, it means not being able to possess its form. If someone is behaving in a manner that is considered indecent, he is not behaving the way one would expect him to. Love behaves in a way that would be congruent with what one should expect of love.

“Seeketh not her own”
ου ζητει τα εαυτης (“oo dzay-tie ta heh-ow-tays) – Literally, “not seek of herself”. The key word in this expression is ζητει (dzay-tie), and it has the idea of plotting or making a plan. But it is also used as a “Hebraism” (a Jewish idiom or figure of speech) to indicate worship to God. Either meaning has application. Love does not plan for its own self-interest. Love does not worship itself.

“Is not easily provoked”
ου παροξυνεται (par-ox-oo-na-tie) – A compound word from the prefix παρα (para), meaning along or beside, and οξυς (ox-zoos) meaning keen or sharp or swift. Literally, to sharpen beside. To make “on edge”. If someone is “on edge” they are irritated or frustrated. Love does not become frustrated quickly. Think about how this is related to the first quality of “suffering long”.

“Thinketh no evil”
ου λογιζεται το κακον (oo log-idz-eh-tie to ka-kon). The key word in this expression is λογιζεται (log-id-zeh-tie), and it means to take an inventory. Love does not take an inventory of evil. Or as Paul Dohse says, “don’t keep a sin list.”

Rejoiceth not in iniquity
ου χαιρει επι τη αδικια (oo chai-rie epi tay ah-di-kee-ah) – The word αδικια (ah-di-kee-ah) is a compound word from the negative particle “a” meaning “no” or “without”, and the word δικη (dee-kay) meaning right or just. So this expression literally means “not cheerful about unjustness.” Love does not show joy over unrighteousness.

“Rejoiceth in the truth”
συγχαιρει δε τη αληθεια (soon-chai-rie deh tay a-lay-thie-ah) – The word for truth is interesting. It is a compound word from a negative particle “a” meaning “no” or “without”, and the word “lathano” which means “to lie hidden” or “to be ignorant”. Truth in this sense is literally that which is no longer hidden, or something revealed. Truth is the opposite of ignorance. But notice now that the word “rejoice” translated here has the prefix “soon” before it. The prefix “soon” means “together”. In this one statement, we are to understand that two things are joyful; love AND truth. Each are dependent upon the other. Love shares a joyful symbiotic relationship with truth.

Paul sums up his dissertation on love with four concluding statements.

“Beareth all things”
παντα στεγει (pan-ta steh-geh-ee) – Literally, “to roof over”, that is, “to cover with silence”. In other words, to keep quiet about something. Think about how this relates to “suffering long” and “not taking an inventory of evil”. Love does not bring up past wrongs. It is all-enduring.

“Believeth all things”
παντα πιστευει (pan-ta pis-tyoo-eh-ee) – To have faith in someone or something. To have faith in someone means that you assume the best about them. Love does not automatically think the worst about others. It is all-believing.

“Hopeth all things”
παντα ελπιζει (pan-ta el-pid-zie) – To anticipate with joyful expectation. The Greek word for “hope” does not describe a wishful sort of thinking. It is a looking forward to with absolute certainty, like a child anticipates Christmas morning. He knows it’s going to happen. Love anticipates with certainty the best from others. It is all-expecting.

“Endureth all things”
παντα υπομενει (pan-ta hoo-poh-meh-nie) – A compound word from the prefix “hupo”, meaning “under” and the word “meno”, meaning “to stay or remain”. Literally, “to remain under”. The implications here are both one of submission but also one of support. Love remains supporting even when it has been wronged. It is all-supporting

Something you should notice about chapter 13 is that there is a distinct change in the literary style. To this point, Paul’s style has been logical and conversational. But Paul’s Hebrew cultural influence becomes apparent in chapter 13 as he switches to a very poetic style. One of the most defining characteristics of Hebrew poetry is parallelism. This can be seen in Psalms, where the writer expresses a thought and then restates that same though another way in the next line. The thoughts can either be comparative or contrasting. Paul uses a more complex form of parallelism called inverse parallelism, and you can see it here in 1 Corinthians 13:7. The relationship between these four aspects of love looks like this:inverse parallel 1
If you go back and consider the commentary we just discussed on each expression, you should notice how closely the inner two characteristics are related and how closely the outer two are related. Another way to see this inverse parallelism is like this:

inverse parallel 2
Paul uses parallelism as a poetic way to express his thoughts by restating the same idea in a different way in order to make his point understood. If you look closely at the definitions you will see that the ideas of “bearing” and “enduring” are very much the same thought. Love does not bring up past wrongs (all-bearing/enduring); it remains supporting even when it has been wronged (all-enduring/supporting). It endures those wrongs. Likewise, the ideas of “believing” and “hoping” are also very much the same thought. Love does not automatically think the worst (all-believing), but it anticipates the best with certainty (all-hoping/expecting).

In fact, if you go back and consider the first 8 characteristics of love in verses 4 through 6, they are also arranged in a much larger and even more complex inverse parallelism construct, where one is related to eight, two is related to seven, three is related to six, and four is related to five. Here is a summary of all the characteristics of love just discussed. To help you better see the parallelism just described, I have grouped them accordingly.

Love hangs in there for the long run.
        Love does what is needed for another’s benefit.
                Love does not behave like a petulant child who doesn’t get his way.
                        Love does not boast, brag, or elevate itself.
                        Love is not proud.
                Love behaves in a way that would be congruent with what one should expect of love.
        Love does not plan for its own self-interest; it does not worship itself
Love does not become frustrated quickly.

 

Love does not take an inventory of evil.
        Love does not show joy over unrighteousness.
        Love shares a joyful symbiotic relationship with truth.

 

Love does not bring up past wrongs. It is all-enduring.
        Love does not automatically think the worst about others. It is all-believing.
        Love anticipates with certainty the best from others. It is all-expecting.
Love remains supporting even when it has been wronged. It is all-supporting.

 

Love will never let another down!

Paul’s final statement on love in verse 8 has no parallel line of though with it, but rather it becomes the opening statement to a series of contrasts which we won’t discuss here. Nevertheless, it is still a characteristic of love worth considering.

“Never faileth”
ουδεποτε εκπιπτει (oo-deh-poh-teh ek-pip-tie) – The word for “faileth” is a compound word from the prefix “ek”, meaning “out of” and the word “pipto”, meaning “to fall”, literally or figuratively. In this sense, it does not describe something that comes to an end, but rather something that no longer measures up to a perceived standard of excellence. Love will never let another down.

Think about how these characteristics apply to the use of spiritual gifts among believers. The purpose of gifts is for the mutual edification of the Body of Christ so that each of us may be properly equipped to tell others the good news of the Kingdom. If we are distracted being envious or jealous over each others’ gift or preoccupied over petty disputes or offences toward each other, then we have disqualified ourselves from serving our Father in the mandate He has given us as ambassadors.

Furthermore, think about how love is the antithesis of control. Love does not change behavior by controlling another. It persuades. If we are preoccupied trying to control others, we are not loving them. I am reminded again of the second greatest commandment; love thy neighbor as thyself. Have you ever noticed that it doesn’t say love your neighbor MORE than yourself? No man hates himself. In fact, we are pretty good at loving ourselves. God’s word says to love others JUST AS MUCH AS you love yourself! This means, treat another the same way you want to be treated. That is the definition of love.

Andy

The Biblical Counseling Death Culture

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on September 18, 2014

Enough Already! Depression is NOT Always Caused by “Mental Illness”

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on September 26, 2013

ppt-jpeg4Look, even if I concede that the mind, i.e., our spiritual being can get a disease, which in this case I will, you can’t detract from the obvious fact that how we think can affect our mood. Chalking up all depression to mental illness strips people of hope and grievously misleads them.

Here is where pastors drop the ball: if a parishioner has been diagnosed with depression, all discussion of that person’s perspective on life and the way they think is off the table. To examine that would be judging some poor soul inflicted with a disease. Here is how I perceive pastors who buy into that: they are incompetent, borderline silly, lazy, cowardly, self-centered, and need to repent or get out the ministry.†

I believe the physical body can affect the mind’s ability to think and reason. I also believe choices made by the way we think in our mind (what the Bible often calls the “heart”) can affect us physically—it works both ways.* Depression obviously has to do with mood. How we feel is a major contributor to life. The apostle Paul commanded us to “rejoice always.”

Who denies that thinking affects mood? Who does that? Ever heard this? “I think I will go to a movie to get my mind off of what’s going on.” Right, that’s wise; if it is a situation out of your control, and dwelling on it is depressing you, don’t dwell on it!

Oh my, the Bible has so much to say about this issue; e.g., the difference between “dwelling” and other kinds of thinking etc. For example, the bible has a lot to say about worry. The Bible also divides worry and concern into different categories. Concern has to do with truth. Worry often concerns things that are not true. I always instruct people who worry to keep a Worry Journal. What they will find is that most worry never culminates into an actual event. This is why the Bible instructs us to “dwell” on what is true. Christ counseled people to focus on what they can do and control today.

From time to time, Susan and I are given opportunity to do marriage counseling. The opportunity usually arises from a spouse who is considering divorce. What I like to do is ask the spouse to name three good things about their spouse in thirty seconds. In most cases, it takes about fifteen minutes to come up with three, and that is with Susan and me coaching. Come now, is that true? Is most divorce caused by untrue thinking and perspective? Say, “yes.”

But note, worrying about things that may or may not come true can keep us awake at night, and sleep deprivation has a lot to do with mood. Thinking can evoke certain feelings, and feelings can evoke certain thoughts. It works both ways, and if you throw sleep deprivation into the mix, Katie bar the door.

Have you ever noticed that doing good makes you feel good? Have you ever noticed that doing bad makes you feel bad? Can depression be caused in people who continually violate their consciences? Say, “yes.”

Like I said, I concede that depression can be caused by biological considerations, but can thinking and perspective on life make it worse? Could it be that medication at times doesn’t work for that very reason? As one medical doctor told me, “antidepressants are mood-changers.” So is thinking and life perspective. Please don’t put a contract out on my life, I am merely saying one is as important as the other.

If I may, let me speak for myself. I have a practice in life that I have used for several years now. Whenever I feel depressed, I stop and take an inventory of what I have been thinking about. Usually, I can identify recent thinking that is making me feel that way. That is when I begin another custom of mine, preaching to myself, reasoning with myself, talking with myself, encouraging myself. We all do it.

But if it is effective, it is not fooling myself, it is a conversation based on the truth.

paul

*A point I can make about the dichotomy of mind and brain (as body) is an unfortunate example. When I was young and foolish, and in fact a fool, I partook in LSD with my friends. That drug, to say the least has a profound effect on body chemistry. Nevertheless, when I hallucinated, I knew it wasn’t real. I also knew I felt the way I felt because of the drug. One particular friend who often partook with me complained that I was looking at him with an evil stare that was scaring him during one of our LSD trips together. I then evaluated what I was thinking and assured him that I was not thinking anything that matched the evil stare.

Likewise, people often question the reality of what they are seeing, and wisely so when the body is under some kind of distress. My point is that we have the ability to do that somehow. Though I am far from being a big fan of John MacArthur Jr., he once shared an experience he had with a demon possessed girl. If I remember correctly, I read it in Confronting the Enemy, or some such book that he wrote. He states that he was able to talk to the girl directly, and separate from the demons, and that is what freed her. Though I do not think much of him, I do not think he would make up such a story.

† In my own case, I eventually had what was known as a “bad trip” which was not fearful hallucinations, but an indescribable oppression. When I found out about “flashbacks,” my thinking was launched into a life of fear and dread regarding the fact that said oppression could come upon me unexpectedly at any time. Throughout my young life, I suffered from emotional distress accordingly, and was periodically under the care of psychiatrists. The real source of my fears were never discussed, nor the possibility explored. Foolishly, I did not want to reveal what my fears were because I didn’t want to reveal that I had taken LSD.

My own private research indicated that flashbacks were unlikely after ten years, but unfortunately, after ten years, I had mentally trained my body to react to fear in a certain way. This is where I believe biofeedback treatments could be helpful, but I make that comment out of school because I have never researched it.

Ironically, I discovered the possibility of flashbacks from a goofy gospel tract that some young Christian girl gave me. It was a story of a girl who was a LSD user who gave her life to the Lord, and then later died from a flashback. That tract led to years of fear that eventually caused me to look up. Just think, that girl has no idea how handing me that tract without saying a word changed my life for all of eternity. Should be an interesting conversation with her in the future.

Another side note: though I was young and foolish, and a fool specifically, I had my limitations on foolishness. The nickname for LSD at that time was, “acid” or “windowpane.” I would have never taken the drug under the nomenclature of “LSD.” I think this is a good lesson in regard to the use of terms and the subject of “terminology” and its ability to affect decision making in general—and what we believe in particular.

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