Hostile combatants two

Wrestling with the Word implies making an adjustment – changing our thinking and doing to match Jesus’ commandments. It is not a one-time event, but a continual, daily effort.

You must be ready (adjusted, prepared) all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected. (Luke 12:40 NLT)

Wrestling with the Word implies making an adjustment – changing our thinking and doing to match Jesus’ commandments. It is not a one-time event, but a continual, daily effort. David said, “I have set (shavah) the Lord continually before me; Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken” (Psalm 16:8 NASB). Shavah (ָׁש ָׁוה) means to level, to agree with, resemble¹ (I always think of a carpenter’s level, with the bubble in it, between me and the Word). This implies changing myself – by attitudes, thinking, words and deeds – to line up with the Word, and the Psalm says this is a continual, constant, daily effort.

The Parable of the Sower is told in Matthew 13:19-23, Mark 4:14-20, and Luke 8:11-15. In each, Jesus essentially tells the same story – until the last sentence, which describes the fruitful hearer of the Word. In Matthew 13:23 this hearer understands or wrestles with the word he has heard, in Mark 4:20 he accepts (admits, delights in, receives) the word, and in Luke 8:15 he retains (holds fast, keeps from getting away, keeps in memory) the word and by perseverance (hupomone) produces a good crop. The word translated “retains” is the Greek word katechó (κατέχω). It also means to “check a ship’s headway i.e. to hold or head the ship”², to keep it on course. Hebrews says, “We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away” (Hebrews 2:1 NIV). This retaining the Word, keeping the course, holding the ship from drifting away implies constant effort. It is only possible by “keeping the Lord continually before me” or “fixing our eyes on Jesus.” The key to this perseverance, or hupomone, is hidden in the Greek word itself. But, more on that next time.

Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 4:1 NIV)

“Go back?” he thought. “No good at all! Go sideways? Impossible! Go forward? Only thing to do! On we go!” So up he got, and trotted along with his little sword held in front of him and one hand feeling the wall, and his heart all of a patter and a pitter.” Tolkien, The Hobbit (chapter 5)

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2 NASB)

¹ Brown-Driver-Briggs http://biblehub.com/hebrew/7737.htm
² Thayer’s and Smith’s Bible Dictionary

Hostile combatants

Have you ever felt that you and the Word of God were hostile combatants? Like you didn’t like the truth and you had to wrestle or fight with it until you could agree with it and become one mind with God? I have many times.

      

“When anyone hears (akouo) the message about the kingdom and does not understand (suniemi) it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the seed sown along the path. The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away. The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful. But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears (akouo) the word and understands (suniemi) it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.” (Matt. 13:19-23 NIV)

In the parable of the sower everyone heard (akouo) the word, but only the last one understood (suniemi). This one was also the only one who bore fruit. Akouo means to hear, consider, and even to understand[i]. But the Greek word suniemi (συνίημι) takes it further – it means to bring together, or join together in the mind. It also has a meaning of bringing together opposing or hostile combatants.

In the Greek world it was used for the bringing together of two hostile combatants and letting them duke it out (Homer, Illiad 1,8; 7,210)[1]. The scripture says that we are naturally hostile to God. “… the sinful mind is hostile to God” (Romans 8:7), but “while we were enemies (hostile ones, opposing) we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son” (Romans 5:10). I think this implies that three of the hearers in the sower parable did not make the effort to adjust themselves to God’s word, to wrestle with the word, until it changed them and became part of them. But, they let the worries and temptations and ultimately the enemy of our souls wipe it out, and they went on unchanged and unfruitful. They looked into the mirror of the Word and then walked away (James 1:23-25).

Have you ever felt that you and the Word of God were hostile combatants? Like you didn’t like the truth and you had to wrestle or fight with it until you could agree with it and become one mind with God? I have many times. I know that I can read the Word or hear the Word and understand perfectly well what it means, but until I wrestle with it, until I can agree with God about it, line up my thinking with His, I will not bear fruit. Even worse, I run the risk of losing the truth altogether.

Praise God! He is not offended when we wrestle with Him, but rather He is pleased. Lord help me not to merely hear but to suniemi.

Continued Hostile combatants two

[1] Thayer’s Expanded Greek Definition, Electronic Database https://www.studylight.org/lexicons/greek/4920.html

[i] All definitions are taken from Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible unless otherwise noted.