Focus    on Purpose
If I have faith to move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing
© Focus On Purpose July 2017

What Does God

Mean, ‘Do Well’?

“The most important thing in

communication is hearing what isn’t said.”

Peter Drucker

What is God Not Saying?

God often speaks in ways that are shrouded in mystery. How many times have you read something in the Bible, been given a prophetic word, had a dream, or even a thought, through which you know God was speaking, but you do not understand the message, either in part, or even in its entirity? You are in good company, for even Daniel did not understand every revelation without assistance. This is one of the ways God invites us into deeper relationship. If we truly love Him, we will want to understand what He is saying to us. We will ask Him and wait expectantly for His answer. Jesus often spoke in parables. If the disciples did not understand what He was saying, chances are extremely high that most of His listeners did not understand. Yet it was only His disciples who asked for clarity, later when they were alone with Him. It was to these disciples, whom He then gave deeper insight into what He was saying. In Genesis 4:7 God tells Cain that if he ‘does well’ his 'face would be lifted up,' meaning that his mood will be changed from jealous anger to rejoicing. But God was not just teaching him how to control his negative emotions. God was teaching something far deeper. God was teaching Cain the secret to living and remaining in His Presence, for it is only here that we can live in continual fullness of joy. David 'got' this and expressed it in one of his Psalms: “You will make known to me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right hand there are pleasures forever.” (Psalms 16:11)  Doing well What does it mean to "do well"? The Blue Letter Bible defines it as: “to do good to, deal well with; to do well, do thoroughly; to make a thing good or right or beautiful: to do well, do right.” Does this mean 'good works' is the secret to pleasing God and living in His Presence? Well, I do believe that 'good works' will be very evident in those who dwell in God's Presence. Jesus' life is a perfect example of one who dwelt continually in the Presence of God. However, 'good works' is a fruit. 'Good works' is an outworking of something deeper; something deep within you, that expresses itself through specific behaviour and responses. Perfection As we read on in Genesis 4, we see that Cain never asked God what he meant by 'doing well'. He told Abel about his conversation with God, but that conversation led to his murdering Abel, and ultimately walking away from the presence of God. So clearly, Cain did not learn the secret to remaining in God's presence, did he? Looking at Adam's descendants we see two people stand out from the rest, only two people in a thousand years : Enoch, who walked with God (Genesis 5:22)   Noah, who walked with God (Genesis 6:9) Both of these people are described as 'walking with God'. Now page forward a few generations, and we come to Abraham. Nothing good is recorded in these pages between Noah and Abraham, that is worthy of mention.  However, in the New Testament, Abraham is raised up as an example of a foundational truth : "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness." (Genesis 15:6) Righteousness is about doing what is right. As we saw above, 'doing well’  is also about doing what is right. We are not talking from the perspective of 'knowledge of good and evil' here. When God speaks of 'doing well' and being ‘righteous’, He is referring to what is right from His perspective; that which is absolutely or completely right. I hesitate to use the word 'perfect', because the meaning of this word often becomes distorted by our frames. The meaning of the Hebrew word translated as perfect in the King James Version, means, "Complete, sound, wholesome, entire, having integrity, entirely in accord with truth and fact." (Brown-Driver-Briggs)   If you look with this understanding, then God's righteousness is perfect. Is Perfection Impossible? It is interesting to note that the first time the Hebrew word for 'perfect' is used, it is not used of God, but God's description of a man, Noah. Now, that's something to ponder, is it not? God's level of perfection will blow the fuses of our mind. He is so big, so vast, so infinite. That in itself is enough to blow our fuses - infinity... In addition to this God says, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways. ... For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts." (Isaiah 55: 9-10) Doesn't it just speak right into God's amazing love and compassion that when He introduces us to the concept of ‘perfection’, He does not use Himself as the standard, but He uses a man; the man Noah. Now He does not state that Noah was without sin, but He does state that he was righteous and 'perfect'. Yet Noah was human. Noah overindulged in his wine after the flood and, in his drunken state, lay naked in his tent. Then to make matters worse, when one of his sons handles this situation badly, he curses his own grandson. I once got into serious trouble when I mentioned Noah's drunkenness to someone at a church meeting. This person was incensed that I could think that Noah did anything wrong, and offered the amazing explanation of his drunkenness as being caused by the fact that the vines got wet while on the ark! Now that's really scratching for an excuse! No. There is only One who ever lived a sinless life - the Son of God, Jesus the Christ, or Anointed One. He alone was without sin. So, when God first introduces us to perfection, He uses a fallible man as an example, and He adds the qualifier of a specific time frame - ‘Moses was righteous and perfect in his time (or generation).’ (Genesis 6:9) With this in mind, is Jesus really asking us to do something impossible, when He tells us, in Matthew 5:48, to be perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect? For sure, God's perfection is beyond our ability to understand, let alone live up to it. But is Jesus telling us to live up to God's level of perfection? Or is He saying something else? Jesus' brother James, tells us, in James 1:4, that this is actually the purpose of our trials: “And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” Would it not be cruelty to subject us to trials for the purpose of perfecting us, when perfection is impossible? Meditate on Matthew 5:48 and James 1:4 by exchanging the word ‘perfect’ for couple of words selected from the Hebrew meaning of the word ‘perfect’, in the list below. It is believed that Jesus spoke Aramaic, which is similar to the Hebrew language. The meaning of the Greek Word for perfect, has similar meanings, and also includes maturity, which I have added to the list. As you meditate, using these words below, see if your understanding of what once seemed impossible, now becomes more reasonable. The Biblical meaning of the word ‘perfect’ is as follows: Complete Sound Wholesome Entire Having integrity Entirely in accord with truth and fact Mature God is not in the ‘business’ of breaking us, but in the ’business’ of forming  us. What then, was it about Noah? One of only two men, in a thousand years, who got the nod of approval from God? Did Noah discover the secret that God was wanting to share with Cain? And if so, what is that secret? Some thoughts to ponder, until we meet again next week.
As you touch or hover over each picture in the four small squares above, they will be magnified in the main square. This demonstrates what happens in our minds; what we focus on becomes enlarged in our minds, to the exclusion of other things. When we get to see a larger frame, and see how the smaller parts fit together, our understanding often shifts.
Prev Next
Focus    on Purpose
If I have faith to move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing
© Focus On Purpose July 2017

What Does God

Mean, ‘Do Well’?

“The most important thing in

communication is hearing what

isn’t said.”

Peter Drucker

What is God Not Saying?

God often speaks in ways that are shrouded in mystery. How many times have you read something in the Bible, been given a prophetic word, had a dream, or even a thought, through which you know God was speaking, but you do not understand the message, either in part, or even in its entirity? You are in good company, for even Daniel did not understand every revelation without assistance. This is one of the ways God invites us into deeper relationship. If we truly love Him, we will want to understand what He is saying to us. We will ask Him and wait expectantly for His answer. Jesus often spoke in parables. If the disciples did not understand what He was saying, chances are extremely high that most of His listeners did not understand. Yet it was only His disciples who asked for clarity, later when they were alone with Him. It was to these disciples, whom He then gave deeper insight into what He was saying. In Genesis 4:7 God tells Cain that if he ‘does well’ his 'face would be lifted up,' meaning that his mood will be changed from jealous anger to rejoicing. But God was not just teaching him how to control his negative emotions. God was teaching something far deeper. God was teaching Cain the secret to living and remaining in His Presence, for it is only here that we can live in continual fullness of joy. David 'got' this and expressed it in one of his Psalms: “You will make known to me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right hand there are pleasures forever.” (Psalms 16:11)  Doing well What does it mean to "do well"? The Blue Letter Bible defines it as: “to do good to, deal well with; to do well, do thoroughly; to make a thing good or right or beautiful: to do well, do right.” Does this mean 'good works' is the secret to pleasing God and living in His Presence? Well, I do believe that 'good works' will be very evident in those who dwell in God's Presence. Jesus' life is a perfect example of one who dwelt continually in the Presence of God. However, 'good works' is a fruit. 'Good works' is an outworking of something deeper; something deep within you, that expresses itself through specific behaviour and responses. Perfection As we read on in Genesis 4, we see that Cain never asked God what he meant by 'doing well'. He told Abel about his conversation with God, but that conversation led to his murdering Abel, and ultimately walking away from the presence of God. So clearly, Cain did not learn the secret to remaining in God's presence, did he? Looking at Adam's descendants we see two people stand out from the rest, only two people in a thousand years : Enoch, who walked with God (Genesis 5:22)   Noah, who walked with God (Genesis 6:9) Both of these people are described as 'walking with God'. Now page forward a few generations, and we come to Abraham. Nothing good is recorded in these pages between Noah and Abraham, that is worthy of mention.  However, in the New Testament, Abraham is raised up as an example of a foundational truth : "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness." (Genesis 15:6) Righteousness is about doing what is right. As we saw above, 'doing well’ is also about doing what is right. We are not talking from the perspective of 'knowledge of good and evil' here. When God speaks of 'doing well' and being righteous’, He is referring to what is right from His perspective; that which is absolutely or completely right. I hesitate to use the word 'perfect', because the meaning of this word often becomes distorted by our frames. The meaning of the Hebrew word translated as perfect in the King James Version, means, "Complete, sound, wholesome, entire, having integrity, entirely in accord with truth and fact." (Brown-Driver-Briggs)   If you look with this understanding, then God's righteousness is perfect. Is Perfection Impossible? It is interesting to note that the first time the Hebrew word for 'perfect' is used, it is not used of God, but God's description of a man, Noah. Now, that's something to ponder, is it not? God's level of perfection will blow the fuses of our mind. He is so big, so vast, so infinite. That in itself is enough to blow our fuses - infinity... In addition to this God says, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways. ... For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts." (Isaiah 55: 9-10) Doesn't it just speak right into God's amazing love and compassion that when He introduces us to the concept of ‘perfection’, He does not use Himself as the standard, but He uses a man; the man Noah. Now He does not state that Noah was without sin, but He does state that he was righteous and 'perfect'. Yet Noah was human. Noah overindulged in his wine after the flood and, in his drunken state, lay naked in his tent. Then to make matters worse, when one of his sons handles this situation badly, he curses his own grandson. I once got into serious trouble when I mentioned Noah's drunkenness to someone at a church meeting. This person was incensed that I could think that Noah did anything wrong, and offered the amazing explanation of his drunkenness as being caused by the fact that the vines got wet while on the ark! Now that's really scratching for an excuse! No. There is only One who ever lived a sinless life - the Son of God, Jesus the Christ, or Anointed One. He alone was without sin. So, when God first introduces us to perfection, He uses a fallible man as an example, and He adds the qualifier of a specific time frame - ‘Moses was righteous and perfect in his time (or generation).’ (Genesis 6:9) With this in mind, is Jesus really asking us to do something impossible, when He tells us, in Matthew 5:48, to be perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect? For sure, God's perfection is beyond our ability to understand, let alone live up to it. But is Jesus telling us to live up to God's level of perfection? Or is He saying something else? Jesus' brother James, tells us, in James 1:4, that this is actually the purpose of our trials: “And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” Would it not be cruelty to subject us to trials for the purpose of perfecting us, when perfection is impossible? Meditate on Matthew 5:48 and James 1:4 by exchanging the word ‘perfect’ for couple of words selected from the Hebrew meaning of the word ‘perfect’, in the list below. It is believed that Jesus spoke Aramaic, which is similar to the Hebrew language. The meaning of the Greek Word for perfect, has similar meanings, and also includes maturity, which I have added to the list. As you meditate, using these words below, see if your understanding of what once seemed impossible, now becomes more reasonable. The Biblical meaning of the word ‘perfect’ is as follows: Complete Sound Wholesome Entire Having integrity Entirely in accord with truth and fact Mature God is not in the ‘business’ of breaking us, but in the ’business’ of forming us. What then, was it about Noah? One of only two men, in a thousand years, who got the nod of approval from God? Did Noah discover the secret that God was wanting to share with Cain? And if so, what is that secret? Some thoughts to ponder, until we meet again next week.
As you touch or hover over each picture in the four small squares above, they will be magnified in the main square. This demonstrates what happens in our minds; what we focus on becomes enlarged in our minds, to the exclusion of other things. When we get to see a larger frame, and see how the smaller parts fit together, our understanding often shifts.
Prev Next