|photo made with the #vrsly app, photo subject…a very much loved Zeke-y. 🙂
Day 5 – Discernment is Excellent
So much is excellent in our lives. We know that every good and perfect gift is from above. All the gifts we have come from the Lord. Look around you, take a moment, and praise Him by lifting up some things, some people, and some moments in life you are thankful for. He is truly an Awesome God.
Today we are going to reflect on one more form of “excellent.”
Philippians 1:9-11 tells us that we can approve what is excellent, we can discern that which is excellent:
And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
Again Romans 2:17-23 reflects the same phrasing:
“But if you call yourself a Jew and rely on the law and boast in God and know his will and approve what is excellent, because you are instructed from the law; and if you are sure that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth— you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law.”
I added the emphasis in the ESV translations above, but can you see the similar phrases stick out this way?
The Greek word in these passages for excellent is diapheronta, which means to carry through, to show what is different, to surpass or excel. Let’s use Scripture to interpret Scripture.
I love the way the passage in Philippians says, “that your love may abound more and more…so that you may approve what is excellent…”
It is in love that we are able to see what is excellent. When we look at everything around us. We look with the rose colored glasses of God’s love for His people.
Occasionally, our zeal for the law, our legalism for things that are, in fact, excellent and righteous even, blind us to being able to see what is Christ. Certainly the Gospel cannot be understood apart from the Law, but we can be so wrapped up in how we think the law or the gospel should look, that we miss it standing in front of us. Let’s let our discernment be Christ’s discernment in us, not our ideas about what is right and wrong, but firmly planted in God’s Justice and God’s Grace, revealed in His Word.
Romans 2:21 above, asks, “you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself?” It is only in being the constant learner that we can discern.
We identify our assumptions and call them out for what they are. We approve what is excellent by sitting as Mary sat at Jesus’s feet, by letting Grace sweep over us; letting dishes stay unwashed and work left undone. We daily are invited to pick up the Word, and use a moment to bask in His purity, His goodness, and His Words of Excellence.
Excellence in the passages today is discerned in the daily life with Christ. It’s not found in the Sunday morning box we check, but in the authenticity of the journey because we firmly believe in an authentic God, and He gives us His authentic Word to learn and grow and love.
What, therefore, is excellent to you? What do you see around you that surpasses because it is of Him? That may be your church (It is excellent! He created it!). It may also be your garden, it may be the laughter in your home or the tears of a friend shed over a shared life. It changes our idea of what is excellent, because to be excellent, it simply needs to be touched by Him, redeemed by His Grace.
Go and discern, ladies. We have something a little different to share. Something that will carry us through. This life, this walk…excellent.
Session 2 – Ending my battle with Proverbs 31…Excellent.
Interestingly enough, in my Biblical search of the word excellence, Proverbs 31 kept popping up. Interesting because this is a women’s Bible study, and interesting because I avoid the passage at all costs.
Proverbs 31, any proverb really, is a minefield, for the Bible study writer, in my opinion. Proverbs is wisdom literature, which means it is helpful, insightful even, but isn’t meant to be always and never. I don’t need to get up at 4am and sell yarn in the marketplace to be a wife of noble character (v. 13-15, interpreted by Heidi, tongue in cheek) Wisdom literature is intended to do just that – impart some broad wisdom. Think of it like talking to an older and wiser mentor woman from church. You thank God for her and discern her thoughts and ideas, but your situation may not exactly line up with her suggestions and that’s ok. Complicate all of that with the inerrancy of God’s Word and “ta-da!” – minefield.
However, the Proverbs 31 woman, is indeed called excellent. More than once!
Let’s read together. Don’t get wrapped up in it yet. Just let the words flow from the page and sit a bit.
An excellent wife who can find?
She is far more precious than jewels.
The heart of her husband trusts in her,
and he will have no lack of gain.
She does him good, and not harm,
all the days of her life.
She seeks wool and flax,
and works with willing hands.
She is like the ships of the merchant;
she brings her food from afar.
She rises while it is yet night
and provides food for her household
and portions for her maidens.
She considers a field and buys it;
with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.
She dresses herself with strength
and makes her arms strong.
She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.
Her lamp does not go out at night.
She puts her hands to the distaff,
and her hands hold the spindle.
She opens her hand to the poor
and reaches out her hands to the needy.
She is not afraid of snow for her household,
for all her household are clothed in scarlet.
She makes bed coverings for herself;
her clothing is fine linen and purple.
Her husband is known in the gates
when he sits among the elders of the land.
She makes linen garments and sells them;
she delivers sashes to the merchant.
Strength and dignity are her clothing,
and she laughs at the time to come.
She opens her mouth with wisdom,
and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
She looks well to the ways of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children rise up and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
“Many women have done excellently,
but you surpass them all.”
Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
Give her of the fruit of her hands,
and let her works praise her in the gates.
So we find excellent in verse 10 and verse 29. It’s reflective of the sandwich idea again. So, in Hebrew, that draws attention to the reader, emphasis on the idea – She is excellent.
Most days, I feel not so excellent. I’ll be honest, lately, it’s been so much less than not excellent. I try to keep my family’s schedule together, but I show up late everywhere. I even show up at the wrong places at the wrong times. I want to make healthy meals and forget 3 out of the 7 ingredients at the store. It feels like my husband and children want every little piece of me and, girls, there’s only so much to go around.
The Hebrew root word for excellent in this passage is hayil. I think it can shed some light on the subject and help us redefine Proverbs 31 and excellent for us. Praise the Lord!
Hayil is actually a masculine noun. It can mean capable, wealthy, efficient, and is reflective of strength, valour, and power. Hmmmmmm…that does not sound very feminine to me.
And maybe I’m taking this too far, maybe I’m too wrapped up in my ideas of gender roles and trying to be the mom who does it all that I’m desperate for a little scrap of Grace on the subject, but I think there is another reason this particular word is used for excellent, when there are other Hebrew roots available that also reflect excellence.
Maybe, just maybe, it’s because we’re not supposed to be Excellent.
Christ is strong. He is capable. He is efficient. He has it all together.
I am His instrument. I go through my day. I honor Him with my lips. I let His Spirit leak out of me in the market, at my table, in bed beside my husband. It’s my job to be weak and real and open.
An excellent wife who can find?
A wife that reflects Christ, because He lives in me.
That is excellent. I am excellent in Christ.
Excellent Mom. Excellent wife. Excellent me.