Saturday, September 18, 2010

Charity Beareth All Things: "Bearing" as "Producing"

As I said at the beginning of last week's New Year's Resolution post, in my introductory post for this month's resolution to "bear more things", I focused on the idea that "to bear all things" must be different than "to endure all things" - since bearing and enduring are listed as separate aspects of charity in 1 Corinthians 13:7. Therefore, I looked up the verb "to bear" and listed the possibilities that might reflect what Paul meant in his statement that charity beareth all things.

Last week's post focused on looking what Paul might have meant if "beareth" is read as "possesseth", while this week I want to look at "beareth" meaning the following:

to bring forth (young); give birth to; to produce by natural growth: to bear a child; to bear fruit

In context of the rest of 1 Corinthians 13, this definition is fascinating to me - and it is one I had never considered prior to this month. Substituting "produceth" for "beareth", the new statement is:

Charity produceth all things.

What does charity "produce"?

Based on 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, charity produceth:

long-suffering - kindness - lack of envy - lack of externally and internally separating pride - propriety - selflessness - forbearance in provocation - purity of thought - repulsion toward iniquity - rejoicing for truth

Thus far, this post is almost identical to last week's post, but there is a radically different foundation to this meaning ("produceth") than last week's meaning ("possesseth") that is worth considering - a difference that doesn't change the appearance of charity (how it looks from the outside) but, rather, alters the acquisition or development of charity in a way that resonates with me.

In a previous post about repentance ("A Fresh View of Repentance"), I started by mentioning how the Bible Dictionary (and "Preach My Gospel") defines repentance. I wrote:

The Bible Dictionary defines "repentance" as: "a change of mind, i.e., a fresh view about God, about oneself, and about the world" . . .

It means repentance is the process of closing the gap between what we are naturally (incomplete, part, partially developed) and what He has commanded us to become (complete, whole, fully developed) . . .

You repent by giving Him your heart and letting Him change your actions."

Defining "beareth" as "possesseth" is powerful, in my opinion, as it focuses on becoming a "new creature in Christ" - one who is progressively more like God due directly to a focused effort to emulate Him and acquire His divine characteristics. However, defining "beareth" as "produceth" takes this idea one step further and focuses on the idea that it's not enough simply to "possess" something; rather, it is critical to full development (godhood) to USE what one possesses in the production of godliness - in one's self, of course, but perhaps as importantly in others.

In this light, it isn't enough to seek to have God in our hearts. To be truly charitable, we must model God in our actions. In this view, full charity is not something that only is sought, but, rather, it is sought to be shared.

In 1 John 4:7, it says:

Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.

I believe that "love" in this case is a verb, not a noun - a course of action, not a feeling. Perhaps Paul is saying that charity felt by someone from someone else begats or produces in that person the motivation, understanding, desire, vision, etc. to reproduce charity in themselves. Perhaps Paul is reiterating a principle in one of my favorite scriptures (1 John 4:19):

We love him, because he first loved us.

Perhaps His charity produces ours - and we, in turn, need to use our own development of charity in such a way that it produces charity in others. In this way, we also become lower case "saviors" in the creation of Zion - in the dissemination of a love that is meant to be universal.

It certainly is worth considering as we contemplate another wonderful scripture in that same chapter (1 John 4:16):

God is love

1 comment:

ji said...

Certainly, words have meaning, and meanings often change over time. I appreciate looking for larger meaning in the scriptures, such as you're doing.