Friday, October 24, 2008

Love - Part 15: Never Fails

Love . . .

--is Patient

--is Kind

--is Not Jealous

--Does not brag

--is Not arrogant

--Does not act unbecomingly

--Does not seek its own

--is Not Provoked

--Does not take into account a wrong suffered

--Does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth

--Bears all things

--Believes all things

--Hopes all things

--Endures all things . . .

And finally we come to the culmination of what true and godly love is . . . it does not fail.

Love has many definitions in today’s world . . . but what is seen is often not a true love, but is instead selfishness and lust. It is seeking to satisfy ones’ own pleasures without considering the needs of others. 

We love, as long as our needs and desires are being met. If someone does not meet our expectations, whether it be a friend, a parent, a spouse or a sibling, we stop loving, or at least, the love grows dim. 

Is this the same type of love being spoken of here in 1 Corinthians 13? Is it the same type of love that our Lord repeatedly exhorts in Scripture for us to have? No. This is an earthly “love” and not a heavenly love. It is a love founded upon selfishness and not upon sincerity and truth.

As in all things, our Lord is the example we are to follow in knowing how to love and in what manner to love (1 Peter 2:21-24; Matthew 11:29). The love that our heavenly Father has bestowed upon us is amazing . . . does He stop loving us when we sin? When we forget to spend time with Him? When we speak angry words to our family members? When we doubt His promises? No, the love of God keeps on loving. 

There are literally hundreds of verses in Scripture that speak of the love that the Lord has for the world, for Israel, for His church, for His children. One of my favorite hymns titled “The Love of God” speaks beautifully of this love:

When years of time shall pass away,
And earthly thrones and kingdoms fall,
When men, who here refuse to pray,
On rocks and hills and mountains call,
God’s love so sure, shall still endure,
All measureless and strong;
Redeeming grace to Adam’s race—
The saints’ and angels’ song.

O love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure
The saints’ and angels’ song.

Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade,
To write the love of God above,
Would drain the ocean dry.
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.

O love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure
The saints’ and angels’ song.

What beautiful, indescribable, infinite love! And we are so very undeserving of it. The love of God and our Savior, Jesus Christ, is perfect, it is true, and it is lasting . . . it will never fail. In 1 John, the apostle states that “God is love” (1 John 4:8), and, “we know love by this, that He laid down His life for us;” (1 John 3:16). The apostle continues with “and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (1 John 3:16). 

Throughout the rest of the book many exhortations are given to love, such as these: “Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth . . . Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God . . . Beloved if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 3:18; 4:7, 11; for a fuller perspective and understanding on love, I encourage you to take some time to read the book of 1 John. What a convicting book it is!).

As we seek to follow the example set before us by our Lord and to be obedient to these commands, the godly, enduring, perfect love that is who our God is and what is described in 1 Corinthians 13 is what we are to strive for. 

Not an earthly love that is founded upon emotions and feelings . . . a love that waxes and wanes depending on how another acts and/or other outward circumstances. A true and godly love will persist . . . the flame of love ignited by the Holy Spirit will continue to burn. At times, the love may not burn as brightly when our fleshly nature raises its ugly head, but a love founded upon the Lord will never fail, for it is His love, flowing through us.

But if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away” (1 Corinthians 13:8).

But love, a love pouring forth from a heart given to the Lord, is one that “never fails”.

We love, because He first loved us . . . And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.” (1 John 4:19 and 21)

-Posted by Sarah

Friday, October 17, 2008

Psalm 95:1-7a

"O come, let us sing for joy to the LORD,
Let us shout joyfully to the rock of our salvation.
Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving,
Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms. 
For the LORD is a great God 
And a great King above all gods, 
In whose hand are the depths of the earth,
The peaks of the mountains are His also.
The sea is His, for it was He who made it,
And His hands formed the dry land. 
Come, let us worship and bow down, 
Let us kneel before the LORD our Maker. 
For He is our God, 
And we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand." 
Psalm 95:1-7a

-Posted by Sarah

Friday, October 10, 2008

A Question of Headcoverings - Part 2

The most recent post regarding headcoverings has garnered much interest, many comments and several e-mails. Thank you to all of you ladies who shared your thoughts! 

Through reading what was shared, there is an additional area that we would like to look at regarding this passage in 1 Corinthians 11 as well as the reason behind having any covering at all (whether it be long hair or a physical veil.)

The argument oft used against the long hair being the covering is verse 6 of chapter 11. In the NASB this verse reads “For if a woman does not cover her head, let her also have her hair cut off; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, let her cover her head.” 

The question that is then asked is: if hair is the covering, why would Paul say that a woman without her head covered (short hair) should have her hair cut off? Wouldn’t he then be saying “if her hair is cut short, than have it cut short”?

As before, it is found that the Greek texts (from which our English translations are translated) do much to bring understanding to this passage. We would like to share with you the key verses in this passage (1 Corinthians 11:5-6) in the literal translation from the Greek (taken from J. P. Green’s The Interlinear Bible):

But every woman praying or prophesying uncovered with the head, shames the head of herself, for one it is and the same with being shaved. For if is not covered a woman, also let her be shorn. But if shameful for a woman to be shorn or to be shaved, let her be covered.

(All of the Greek texts [the Novum Testamentum Graece text which is the foundation of many major Bible versions today; the Textus Receptus text which is the one we quoted above, and which is the foundation of the King James Version and the New King James Version; and the Majority Text.] read basically the same.)

In the verses quoted above, it mentions that an uncovered head while praying or prophesying is the same as being shaved and also that if it is shameful for a woman to be shorn or shaved, let her be covered. 

The Greek word from which “shorn” is translated is “keiro” (Strongs 2751) which means to shear as a sheep. 

The Greek word from which “shaved” is translated is “xurao” (Strongs 3587) which means to shear, shave with a razor; to get one’s self shaved. When a sheep is shaved, it is right down to the skin; in essence it is to be made bald, to be completely shaven. Being shaved with a razor also indicates complete baldness rather than simply short hair.

In looking at the words “keiro” and “xurao”, (the words that are in the Greek texts) and the meanings of these words, one can see that the translation in many of our English versions of the word “keiro” is not an accurate translation. They often read something like “have her hair cut off” (though the NASB reference Bible that we have also gives the literal rendering in the margin which reads “shear herself”). 

The King James Version gives an accurate translation of this verse that holds close to the Greek: “For if a woman is not covered, let her also be shorn”. Thus far, we see a difference between short hair and being shorn or shaven.

In the life of the apostle Paul, the difference between short hair and shaven is made clear also: Men were to have short hair according to 1 Corinthians 11; due to Paul’s Nazarite vow, he shaved his already short hair off. In Acts 18:18 – the Greek reads: "having shorn in Cenchrea the [his] head; for he had a vow.” 

The word shorn is translated from "keiro"—one of the same words used in 1 Corinthians 11. So Paul went from a position of short hair to being shaven/shorn. It is apparent that short hair and being shorn are physically two different things.

With an understanding of the words “shaved” and “shorn”; and if, as according to verse 15, the long hair and not a physical cloth veil is a woman’s covering, we find that the above quoted verses from the Greek are made clear:

But every woman praying or prophesying uncovered with the head [with short hair and not long], shames the head of herself, for one it is and the same with being shaved [shorn as a sheep; bald]. For if is not covered a woman [does not have long hair, but has short hair], also let her be shorn [shorn as a sheep; bald]. But if shameful for a woman to be shorn or to be shaved [bald], let her be covered [have long hair].”

As the “long hair instead of a veil has been given to her”, to pray unveiled or uncovered would be to pray with short hair (like a man's) instead of long . . . doing so shames the head of her.

But what is the purpose behind the headcovering (whether it is a physical cloth or long hair)? It is to show the attitude and condition of the heart . . . the beautiful quality and countenance of godly submission. 

As daughters or wives striving to serve and be obedient to the Lord, we must submit to our father’s or husband’s wishes and desires for us in this area (1 Timothy 2:11-14; Titus 2:5; 1 Peter 3:5-6; Numbers 30:3-5). If our fathers or husbands do not desire us to, have not asked us to, and/or have not given permission to wear a physical cloth covering, for us to do so would be to violate the very reason for, or intent of, covering in the first place. 

And vice versa, if our fathers or husbands desire us to cover with a physical cloth veil, yet we insist that the long hair is the covering and follow this course, we are in rebellion and by our actions and heart, we would be denying the very purpose of covering.

As many have so wisely shared through comments and e-mails, submission is truly the heart of the matter. We can cover our heads with a cloth veil or long hair, but if it is against our father’s or husband’s desire, we are rebelling instead of submitting. And the Lord sees and knows . . . others may see the covering or long hair and think that we have submissive spirits, but “God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).

We encourage all of you ladies to ask your fathers or husbands what they would prefer or desire you to do. Do not force your opinions or beliefs upon him in an attempt to pressure him to let you do what you desire; but humbly ask, truly seeking to submit to and honor the one whom the Lord has placed as your head, as your authority, as your leader. 

For in this is the Lord glorified . . . as we follow the example of Sarah of old and adorn ourselves with submission, which is in part “the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God” (1 Peter 3:4b).

-Posted by Sarah and Leah

Thursday, October 2, 2008

A Question of Headcoverings

Periodically our family receives questions regarding scriptural issues and last week we received one in regards to headcoverings. In speaking of a particular group of people it was shared . . .

"The women wear headcoverings. In your pictures you do not. Why?"

Below is my response to her, and it is shared here to provoke thought, and perhaps discussion regarding the issue: 


The question of why we do not wear headcoverings is a good one! This is a topic that we have devoted intensive scriptural study to, for if the Lord desired us to cover our heads with a cloth/fabric covering, we wanted to be obedient to Him! 

1 Corinthians 11 (the only chapter in the New Testament which suggests a woman covering her head) has been confusing to many and is surrounded with much controversy. The spiritual and physical roles of men and women is the primary focus of the chapter.

 It is clearly explained the order that God has placed men and women in . . . women in subjection to men, men in subjection to Christ, Christ in subjection to God. It is important to realize that this headship does not in the least lower the woman or make her a slave/servant—it is a beautiful role, just a different role than that of a man. Nor does this role lessen her in the eyes of God, make her less ‘spiritual’ or give her restricted access to the Lord. 

When examining this passage and striving to take it in context in its entirety and with the rest of Scripture, we came to the conclusion that wearing a physical cloth covering is not a practice commanded by the Lord. For us, this decision came through studying specifically verses 13-15 of chapter 11. In the original Greek these verses read: 

Among you [your]selves judge: fitting is it [for] a woman unveiled to God to pray? Not nature self teaches you that a man indeed if he wears his hair long, a dishonor to him it is, but a woman if she wears her hair long, a glory to her it is? Because the long hair instead of a veil has been given to her” (1 Corinthians 11:13-15).

The phrase “instead of a veil” is absent from English versions, but present in all the Greek texts (the Novum Testamentum Graece text [the foundation of many major Bible versions today], the Textus Receptus text [the foundation of the King James Version and the New King James Version] and the Majority Text.) 

The “instead of” is translated from the Greek word ‘anti’. This word has several different similar meanings including the word ‘for’ (which is what is used in the modern versions today), but as used in 1 Corinthians 11:15, it bears the stronger meaning of ‘instead of and/or in place of something’. 

Thus, the proper rendering of “the long hair instead of a veil has been given to her.” Basically the long hair is given instead of a veil; the long hair serves as the covering mentioned earlier in the chapter. 

The majority of English Bible versions today read something like: “her hair is given to her for a covering”. This translation greatly confuses the issue! But when looking at the different Greek texts, it was clear to us that long hair was the covering spoken of by God in 1 Corinthians 11; thus that is the reason why we ladies in the family wear our hair long. Not necessarily because we ‘like’ long hair (though, we do love it!), but because we desire to cover our heads in the manner that the Lord commands (1 Corinthians 14:37-38). (Though, in Scripture a specific length of hair is not mandated, it simply states that a woman is to have long hair that differs from the short hair of men.) 

Not only is the long hair the covering of the woman, it is also stated that it is “a glory to her.” Our long hair is a representative of the beautiful role that the Lord has placed us in . . . why would we cover with a veil what the Lord has given to us as our glory and covering? 

We do hope that this brief examination pertaining to headcoverings will be a blessing to you! If you have any questions or if we have not articulated something clear enough, please do not hesitate to ask!

*Edited to add: What is shared here is with the intent to stir thought and encourage one to examine this area of headcoverings. It is not intended to cause daughters or wives to go against the teaching and desire of their fathers or husbands. As women, we are commanded by the Lord to submit to our fathers or husbands . . . and this includes in this area of whether or not to cover our heads with a physical cloth covering. I hope that that clarifies this issue a bit! :) 

-Posted by Sarah

*Edited to add: A follow up post to this one has also been posted. It can be found here:
A Question of Headcoverings - Part 2