Tell me More
In the writing world of today, the philosophy of every word counting is just as prevalent. It’s what sets a piece apart. But bells and whistles of writing aside, the simplest truth in the Bible can hang on the introduction of one simple word. A participle.
Eek! Don’t stop reading! Sometimes we already clock out, because we hear a big fancy word and you don’t want to dive into fancy pancy jargon. But it’s worth the read and the perseverance to hear me out.
A participle is simply a word ending in “ing”. In many ways it’s the kind of word that completes an action, or tells us something more about an action. So I could say:
“I sat on the mat” Or I could add, “I sat on the mat, reading my book”. Reading is telling me more about my sitting. I was sitting reading. And sitting is telling me more about my reading. I read while sitting. They work together. So, what does this have to do with the Bible?
Here is what makes all the difference
In Ephesians 5:15-16 the Good News Bible says:
15 So be careful how you live. Don’t live like ignorant people, but like wise people. 16 Make good use of every opportunity you have, because these are evil days.
Vs 15-16 are two separate ideas and so two separate commands. Be careful how we live, and make good use of every opportunity.
How many of us have heard the Making the best use of every opportunity sermon. What’s it about? Sharing/speaking about Jesus. We have created a theology around what that means based on how we read these verses.
But, what if vs 15-16 is one sentence? The NIV and ESV reads as follows:
15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise,16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.
Did you see the participle? Making. That’s why what version of the Bible we read matters. You want to be reading a version that is as close to the original as possible.
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Now the meaning of what it means to make use of every opportunity changes. How do I do this? BY living as a wise person. Making the most of every opportunity isn’t really about speaking about Jesus, although there are many other passages that do speak to that very idea. Rather it’s about how I live. How I live among outsiders either creates or negates opportunities.
So, the direct application here would be: When I am at a braai I should be asking, is my behaviour an opportunity to put Jesus on the radar?
Does it Matter?
Well, it’s not a life or death type theology right? Whether we believe making the most of every opportunity is about words or behaviour isn’t crucial to our perseverance in the faith. But, as the saying goes –“If you can’t manage the small things, how can you manage the big ones?”
This will make a huge difference when small words can change the meaning of the gospel or big theological truths that have potential to distort grace and/or Jesus.
We must carefully hold the word of God in our hands, remembering that every word counts so that we are meticulously crafting a view of him and our lives that is shaped around truth. God finely tuned his word so that we
“everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness”