Satis…what?!?

Highway

SATISFICING according to Oxford Dictionaries pertains to the decision and pursuit of a course of action that is perceived will satisfy the minimum requirements necessary to achieve a particular goal.  This interesting term is a synthesis –or what we would refer to in Italian as a “mescolanza”– of the words satisfy and suffice.  It basically describes the natural tendency of humans to be lazy.  Believe it or not, I encountered this term when studying decision making in the context of international political relations.  But it made me think, “Does the Bible say anything about satisficing?” and “If so, what does the Bible say about it and how it applies to my life?”

A particularly relevant scripture I came across is Proverbs 15:19, “The way of the lazy is as a hedge of thorns, but the path of the upright is a highway” (NASB95).  The structure of this scripture is in line with the antithetical parallelism which is a distinctive feature of Hebraic poetic literature.  Antithetical parallelism is the contrasting of ideas, such as “The Lord lifts up the humble; He casts the wicked down to the ground” (Psalm 147:6, NKJV82).  Proverbs 15:19 contrasts the way (Heb. derek) of those who are lazy or sluggish (Heb. āṣēl) to the path (Heb. ʾōraḥ) of those who are upright or conscientious (Heb. yāšār).

Why are laziness and a hedge of thorns contrasted with uprightness and a highway?

The descriptions offered in the context the scripture suggest that laziness is foolish and senseless for although a course of action may be perceived to satisfactorily suffice with ease it is actually a course of inaction, reluctance, restriction, and hardship.  In other words, satisficing hinders and hurts.  Just think about this…how appealing does stumbling barefoot in a hedge of thorns sound?

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Satisficing hinders and hurts.

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In contrast, uprightness (or conscientiousness) is wise and sensible.  Those who refuse to satisfice pursue a course marked by diligence, excellence, precision, enthusiasm.  The New Living Translation conveys this contrast especially well: “A lazy person’s way is blocked with briers, but the path of the upright is an open highway” (Proverbs 15:19).

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In whatever we do, we should faithfully aspire and endeavor to do it wholeheartedly in the Name of the Lord Jesus, all to the glory of God (I Corinthians 10:31; Colossians 3:15).

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Wait just a minute there!  Didn’t you say that it is the natural tendency of humans to be lazy?  So doesn’t that mean that for us to NOT be lazy would be unnatural?

My friend, this is yet another reason we need Christ to give us a new nature.  WE CAN DO WHATEVER WE DO WHOLEHEARTEDLY IN THE NAME OF THE LORD JESUS ALL TO THE GLORY OF GOD ONLY BY THE GRACE OF GOD.  That is why all the glory is to God and God alone–because neither you nor I could wholeheartedly serve God and faithfully walk in “uprightness”, which is adverse to our natural tendency to satisfice, of ourselves without the Divine Intervention of Jesus Christ!

Serve Wholeheartedly By The Grace Of God!

Victoria

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Samaria…

Photo: BiblePlaces.com. BiblePlaces.com Image Library. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software (2009).

Photo: BiblePlaces.com. BiblePlaces.com Image Library. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software (2009).

The Woman of Samaria (also known as The Woman at the Well) is one of my favorite testimonies in Scripture.  In the past I have always tended to look at this Scriptural account from the perspective of the woman.  When I read the account this time, however, I endeavored to look at it from the perspective of Jesus.

Jesus was a Jew and the woman of Samaria was, well, a Samaritan.  The Jews were historically known to abhor the Samaritans so much that they wouldn’t even pass through the region of Samaria to get to their destination (even though it was the shortest, most practical route).  Samaritans and Jews would have no dealings whatsoever with each other.  No communion.  No transaction.  No association.  They wouldn’t even dare to drink out of a common cup or well, let alone share a meal.  And they would especially have no religious dealings.

“HE left Judea and departed again to Galilee. But HE needed to go through Samaria. So HE came to a city of Samaria called Sychar” (John 4:3-5, NKJV82).

Jesus NEEDED to go through Samaria!?! Why did Jesus NEED to go through Samaria?!?

John 3:16 says, “For GOD so loved the world that HE gave HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN SON that whosoever believes in HIM should not perish but have everlasting life” (NKJV82).  Jesus went to Samaria because of who He is ―the Lover and Savior of souls in desperate need of Him.  There were souls in need of Jesus in Samaria.

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Is God asking you to go somewhere or do something you usually aren’t fond of going or doing for the sake of others?

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Jesus went to Samaria.  He was tired, weary, and thirsty from His walk.  He broke through gender and ethnic barriers.  He was in Samaria to do the will of His Father.  Glory to God!

The woman who came to the well day after day for water to quench her physical thirst did not know that particular day she would meet Jesus and receive living water to quench the eternal thirst of her soul.  The LORD met her where she was and she was forever changed so much so that she left her waterpot at the feet of Jesus and went into the city to tell others about the Man who told her all things that she ever did.

Jesus ―God Himself― went to the cross for us!  He was despised, rejected, pierced, crushed, wounded, oppressed, and afflicted (Isaiah 53).  He broke through the barriers of sin.  He did the will of HIS Father.  Glory to God!

What a wonderful Savior!  He is respecter of no persons― His Salvation is not dependant on whether we are a man or a woman nor Ethiopian or Arabian or Indian or German or Australian or Canadian or American.  “[T]he righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ [is] for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith” (Romans 3:22-25, NASB95).  “For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all” (Romans 6:10, NASB95).

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Is there a “Samaria” you NEED to go to?

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“Do you not say, ‘Four months more and then the harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest” (John 4:35, NIV84).

Mary

Licensed to Sin?

“God’s law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were.  But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant.  So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God’s wonderful grace rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 5:20-21, NLT96).

Then doesn’t that mean that we are licensed to sin?

That’s exactly the rhetorical question posed in response to the text in Romans 5.  Paul rhetorically asks in Romans 6:1, “Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of His wonderful grace?”  And the answer immediately follows…”Of course not!”  This unmistakably clarifies that the statements in Romans 5:20-21 should not be taken to mean that unmerited grace encourages or provides an excuse to sin.

Grace is not to be perceived as a “license to sin”.  In actuality, it should not encourage us to sin but quite the opposite. 

Because of God’s grace through life in Jesus Christ, enslavement to sin and death is removed from us.  Paul continues to explain that “sin is no longer [our] master, for [we] no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, [we] live under the freedom of God’s grace” (Romans 6:14, NLT96).

So doesn’t that mean that we can sin because we don’t have to worry about laws?

And that’s exactly the rhetorical question posed in response to Romans 6:14.  “Well then, since God’s grace has set us free from the law, does that mean we can go on sinning?” (Romans 6:15, NLT96)  The definitive answer yet again…”Of course not!”  For Christians, to be under grace does not mean the freedom from all restrictions.  Rather, to be under grace means that Christians divinely receive the ability to meet the standards of the law.

Christians are no longer condemned by failure to meet the law because being brought to a righteous standing under grace in Christ Jesus produces true obedience of their hearts to then abide by the law.

Suppose I have food poisoning and after seeing a doctor about treatment, I begin taking prescribed medicines and the like to get rid of the toxins and bacteria.  When the harmful toxins and bacteria have been killed and I no longer have food poisoning, I do not seek to deliberately eat undercooked pork or expose myself to toxins and bacteria that will put the toxins and bacteria right back into my system and give me food poisoning again just because I know that there is medication to treat itThat would be completely ridiculous!

I believe that is the same point Paul is making in Romans— the objection of justification by faith through grace because it seems to provide an excuse for sin is completely ridiculous.  The abundance of grace should not be perceived as an encouragement to sin all the more— it is NOT a “license to sin”.  Grace through justification by faith allows us to experience what it is like to be freed from the poisonous toxins of sin.  I believe that this very realization makes it clear to us that we should not have to go back to experiencing our previous state of sickness (or as Paul illustrated it, as slavery)In that regard, experiencing grace through justification by faith may be seen as a preventative of sorts because we know what it is like to be healthy.

Wouldn’t you rather choose to be healthy than sick?

Victoria

Apples, Oranges, and Grapes!?

Grapes

One of my favorite lines from the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding comes from the scene in which Toula’s father gives a toast at her wedding reception.  He explains that their surname, “Portokalos”, means “orange” and that Toula’s husband’s (and her new) surname, “Miller”, means “apple”.  He then concludes, “In the end, we’re all fruit”.  From then on, I couldn’t help but think of Nia Vardalos, Lainie Kazan, Andrea Martin, and Michael Constantine every time I saw fruit!

What’s the point of mentioning Greek weddings and fruit?  Similar story– When I was a young child and it came time to learn about “The Fruit of the Spirit”, I would literally visualize fruit.  I heard and read this: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23, NASB95).  However, I pictured this:

FruitOfTheSpirit

You know, it’s not far off.  In Galatians 5:22 Paul uses the Greek word karpos which does indeed refer to fruit.  Yet, it goes beyond literal apples, oranges, and grapes to offer us a visual for understanding how we must live.  The conjunction “but” in Galatians 5:22 designates the existence of a rational relationship in the text; specifically, it designates a contrasting connection to the immediately preceding text.  The term “fruit of the Spirit” in verse twenty-two is used in direct contrast to the “deeds of the flesh” in verse nineteen.

“For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please” (Galatians 5:17, NASB95).

“Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these” (Galatians 5:19-21, NASB95).

Essentially, the question is: Is it evident that we now live according to the life we have been given by the Holy Spirit?

Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control are qualities which ought to be evidenced in what we do and say AND in what we refrain from doing and saying.  The manner in which we live should produce such “fruit”.

How can I know if my life is producing such “fruit”?

Well, the best way is to consider God’s perspective.  What is God’s perspective of love?  Joy?  Peace?  Patience?  That said, I thought that I would do something a little different this week.  So I’ve compiled some scripture references into an “Apples, Oranges, and Grapes” daily reading suggestion of sorts.  Here are the suggested “portions” for ten days of studying about God’s perspective on the fruit of the Spirit:

FruitPortions

* Please note that this daily reading is meant to escort you to select passages of Scripture with fruit of the Spirit themes.  To more fully appreciate and benefit from this daily reading, I would encourage you to read the verses in their (specific and general) context.  Knowing a verse’s context helps clarify its meaning and profound relevance!

Joyous Readings!

Victoria