Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas letter

Well this year has not been as bad as last year but I have had some set backs.  I only had one lithotripsy and only five stones.  Some of you may be saying "Five stones is good?" Since I had two hundred last year five is good.  My kidney function is staying at forty-five percent so that is where it will stay for now.  I was on steroids for almost a year and let me tell you if you have never been on steroids for a year you do not know insanity.  I couldn't take anti-inflammatories anymore due to my kidney function so steroids were the only medicine I could take until I was MRSA free for a year.  I am MRSA free but did have a series of staph infections that are finally under control.  I'm now on a biologic called Orencia but it will take about four months to see if it will control my RA symptoms.  I am in a lot of pain all the time pretty much everywhere.  I have gotten used to this reality and tried to make the best of it. 
Some friends of ours went to the mission field this fall and we miss them.  We are proud of them and inspired by their personal stories of faith.  Knowing that others are not taking their faith for granted gives me the inspiration to continue after God's plan for me.  I may not have an organized ministry as we typically think of ministry but this year has taught me that what I consider random God considers ministry.  God has been good this year despite losing some friends and family.  Meaghan Jones, Larry Hicks, Jean Williams and my husband's aunt Judy Doughty will be missed.  Experiencing their absence has made me realize how important it is to tell people how much they mean to you instead of passing up those opportunities assuming they know.  You can't get those moments back.  I am grateful for the time God gave me with them and that He graced me with their lives.
I am still keeping my nieces and have been enjoying the time I have with them.  I've been making the most of it even if I don't always feel well.  They teach me just as much as I teach them.  Lessons on forgiveness, grace, love, and compassion pour from them.  They challenge me to understand these concepts myself before I teach them.  I think God has given me this time with them for a reason and I'm humbled to be apart of their lives.
I am still discipling and teaching Greek.  I have some upcoming projects that I'm excited about but what God has for me next year is wide open.  I've learned to live in the present instead of living for the future hoping things will change or get better.  We miss so much in relationships, ministry and in the church by living in the past or the future. I was able to finish translating 1 John and interpreting it.  I also read and did an overview of Isaiah and hope to study it more thoroughly this coming year.  Finally I've been doing a study on Paul which has been a great reminder that he was just an ordinary guy who trusted God for extraordinary things consistently.  He understood our struggles and our successes but wanted all of us to walk through our journeys as a body.  I hope for my friends new and old and my family that we move forward to the potential that God knows we have in Him through faith.  I also am excited about what God is doing at Woodland Park.  We have had a great deal of illness, death and loss but we are still able to keep ministering.  God is good all the time.  Why?? That's His nature!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Guest Room

In recent years I have gone back over the Christmas story and in Greek discovered some things that had me scratching my head because it didn't line up with the words and the culture reflected for that time period.  As I do when I'm stumped I went looking for the answers and found them in Luke and in a book called Jesus: Through Middle Eastern Eyes by Kenneth Bailey.  What we have typically accepted from the English has actually given us a bad translation and something totally different from what really happened.

In Luke 2:1-4 we learn that there was a census that took place so that Augustus could tax the Empire more efficiently.  Everyone was sent to where their ancestry was from which for Joseph was Bethlehem.  At first there was no evidence of this census taking place until the decade when a small reference was found on a stone tablet that indicated Luke was absolutely accurate. 

In Luke 2:5 we are told Joseph brought Mary who was pregnant.  From the narrative and the tenses in Greek Luke is telling us that Joseph and Mary went to Bethlehem and while there she at some point went into labor.  It was not as movies and paintings have portrayed, Mary being ready to have the baby on the donkey right as they enter Bethlehem.  In fact the lone journey was not how Mary and Joseph would have traveled.  Mary and her parents were also from the ancestry of David and they would have gone with them as was the custom for safety reasons.  We see this in Luke 2:43-44 when Joseph and Mary took Jesus up to Jerusalem and in the story of the Good Samaritan.

Luke 2:7 tells us that Mary bore Jesus and wrapped Him in a manager but the next phrase in the English says, "because there was no place for them in the inn."  In the Greek however it reads, "because there was absolutely no place for them in the guest room."  So how did the English version get so different?  That is a good question because Luke uses another word for "inn" pandocheion where the good Samaritan took the man attacked.  In Luke 22:11 when Jesus told the disciples where to go to get a place to hold Passover and He told them to ask for the kataluma the "guest room" of the house.

In Middle Eastern culture from the time of David till WWII the average person and the wealthy built a room onto their house that would be offered to travelers passing through their town or city.  A typical house was one room where the family slept, ate, cooked and kept the animals they owned.  Unlike the nativity scenes with the stables pictured, animals were brought into the house and served as heaters for the family in the winter time because their body heat together provided added warmth.  The guest room was only for entertaining guests and travelers.  In our culture, we only bring people we know into our homes but their culture brought strangers into their homes.  Paul encouraged the Romans not to forsake hospitality to both people they knew but also people who were strangers.

The house that Mary and Joseph stayed in, had a full guest room so they were put in the family room and not the stable we have been apt to put in the nativity.  In the house, because the animals were brought inside, they would construct a manager and put it near the animals so they could lean over the pen they were kept in and eat.  With a full house there would have been no where to put the sling babies were often put in during that era so a manager was the most logical.

This changes the idea that Mary and Joseph were put outside in a cave with no midwife and no provisions.  The women of the house not to mention Mary's family would have assisted with the birth of Christ.  The shepherds who were famous for their hospitality would never have left the baby Jesus and his parents outside.  They would have taken them home and made sure they were treated with honor.  In Luke 2:17 the shepherds told about the angels' message publicly and they would have had a guestroom and family room filled with people plus those around the house where they were led.  It says they rejoiced at all they saw so it was satisfactory hospitality for them. So what does this correction mean for us?  Instead of rejection God was illustrating where God wanted to be, in the family room, in the midst of our busy lives, in our day to day existence.  He wanted to be God with us.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

John 3:4

So far we have seen Jesus tell Nicodemus that without receiving birth from above (not again) we cannot in anyway recognize and understand the kingdom of God. This next verse is unfortunately misunderstood and I hope to rectify the misconception that people have about Nicodemus. In verse 4 Nicodemus we are told says, lego (3004) to say logically, to Jesus, "How is a man able to be born, being old? He is not able to enter into his mother's womb a second time and be born?" Remember that culture, history and in the case of religion, commentary, can give more clues as to the correct interpretation than can interpretation with language alone. In this case language isn't the indicator of interpretation although we will look at it but rather the Talmud. After the Babylonian captivity, Jews began to write commentaries on the Torah and there were certain things that became a part of Jewish religious thinking. During Passover, a cup is dedicated to the righteousness that belongs to God but as I read the prayer and commentary for modern Seder practices I discovered this thinking and where it originated from. Jews believed that there were two ways an individual could be declared righteous: the first was from birth and the second was being made righteous by God. We believe in original sin and that as Psalm 51 tells us we are sinful from conception. Jewish thought however differed and the idea that someone could be born righteous was possible. Jesus, the only One born righteous, and who came to die for all born unrighteous, was the only One qualified to dispute this theology. Nicodemus was old according to this verse. According to context and language Nicodemus asks, "How is a man able to be born, being old?" The verb eimi (5607) is a present tense participle meaning that the subject is old and keeps being old. Nicodemus is referring to himself although he seems to be referring to himself in third person. If it were a hypothetical question Nicodemus could have used the aorist tense "having been old" but instead he uses the present tense participle which indicates the present state and continual state of being old. Nicodemus was not questioning Christ by thinking physically but rather Nicodemus misunderstood the spiritual concept. He thought Jesus meant that a man had to be reborn in order to obtain righteousness. He didn't understand that wasn't how a man received righteousness in God's plan. We see this in the second part of the verse, "He is not able to enter his mother's womb a second time and be born?" It is interesting that Nicodemus doesn't use ou, the absolute negative particle "not" but the relative negative particle, me which gives the possibility that something may happen. He leaves room for the possibility of a man being born a second time but thinks from what he knows that this is unlikely. Nicodemus again isn't questioning Christ as much as he is trying to understand what Christ is saying. Nicodemus in both parts of his question uses dunamai (1410) able or having power in reference to a second birth. Dunamai is not speaking of the actual exertion of power or ability but the potential ability or power to do something. Again Nicodemus is talking theoretical instead of actual. Nicodemus we know from this verse is old but we also see something else about him. He doesn't consider himself righteous. Remember there are two ways of obtaining righteousness and Nicodemus knows he was not born righteous and doesn't seem to think God has made him righteous. David, Moses or Abraham was seen as worthy of this honor just as Catholics deem only certain Christians as "saints". Nicodemus didn't presume God had made him righteous but it was a sure thing if he could be born for a second time righteous. This tells us about the humility of Nicodemus and why Christ would show concern and instruction toward him but would rebuke the others with Nicodemus. Nicodemus being old was coming to the end of his life and knew he had not been born righteous or made righteous so that Jesus' words were hope to him and he wanted earnestly to understand them. Nicodemus gets a bad rap for being cowardly and spiritual dense when in reality he came with other Pharisees and simply had bad theological information about the Torah. As we see in verse five Jesus patiently leads him through correct theology.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

We have seen so far in John 3 who Nicodemus is and who he believes Jesus is. In John 3:3 we see what Jesus' response was to all this flattery. We see that Jesus answered, the Greek word apokrinomai (611), which is the combination of apo (575) originally from and krino (2919) to discern judge or separate. Together this word means to answer but with discretion or in response to previous circumstances. Even though it seems completely off the subject Jesus is answering Nicodemus perhaps not in the manner that Nicodemus' greeting would have warranted but He answers according to a deeper subject Nicodemus introduces, that he and those with him recognized and understood that Jesus had come originally from God as a teacher and secondly that no one could do the signs Jesus did except that person have God with him. Jesus expounds upon the concepts Nicodemus introduces and explains why He came to them, "Amen, Amen, I am saying to you if not this one, had been born from above, he is absolutely not able to have recognized and understood the kingdom of God." Jesus uses a Hebrew term transliterated into Greek, amen (281), meaning truly or surely in Hebrew has the idea of certainty or "so be it". Here Jesus uses it twice. When someone wanted to specify the importance and truthfulness of what was said next they would utter twice, amen, amen. "Truly, truly" would be acceptable or "this is the truth". Jesus immediately starts with asserting that what He said next could not be debated but had to be accepted as the absolute truth. He then tells Nicodemus and those with him, lego (3004) to say logically, here the root form, which is present tense, active voice and indicative mood. Lego is also first person singular which with the present tense, on-going action that has no time set for its ending, makes this very interesting. "I am saying" is grammatically correct in English but there is more to this. It could be translated as "I am always saying" because of the divinity of Christ plus the message He is delivering. Because He says "I am always saying" He is actually speaking to us just as much as to His audience at the time. Anyone reading what He said realizes that His message has never changed and that we must accept that this statement is truth and unchanging. Next Jesus says that, "I am always saying to you". "To you" is the 2nd person pronoun but is singular and not plural which shows again Jesus speaks to Nicodemus but then changes to speak to the plural "you" later. Jesus then uses the conjunction ean (1437) if with the negative relative particle me (3361) not. Together they mean "if not" "unless" "except". Ean means "if" but that there is a strong possibility of it occurring and me, a possibility of something happening. Me indicates that choice is involved and that we can choose to do something or not. Here Jesus indicates that there is choice involved but that "if not this one had been born from above" the result would be the opposite of recognizing and understanding the kingdom of God. The indefinite pronoun is singular here emphasizing the individual's decision instead of the collective. This is important because denominations in the past and present wrongly think there is a corporate relationship to Christ based on works instead of a personal relationship to Christ based on grace. Next we see that "if not this one had been born from above", the "had been born" gennao (1080) to be born, is singular again, aorist tense, passive voice and subjunctive mood. This "one" we see by the aorist tense has been completed in his or her birth which shows us the way that God views this process. Being outside of time God sees our birth in Him as a completed action even if we are going through the process in linear time. This is also important because it shows us our salvation in Him is a done deal and assured to us. It can't be taken from us because it is a permanent condition. Next we see it is in the passive voice, which the verb itself is passive in nature. We often refer to the birthing process as being controlled by the child but in reality the child receives the birthing process because the woman's body dictates when the baby will be born. Salvation is not our doing or initiated by us but by the Spirit as Jesus points out later, and we receive or reject it. Lastly gennao is subjunctive meaning that it is dependant on another action occurring or it is the dependant action for something else to occur. Here it is the dependant verb for something else to occur but it also is another indicator of choice. Birth is an fascinating analogy of salvation. Jesus uses this to illustrate what must take place within us in order for the spiritual world to be accessed. When a woman's body determines that the baby cannot be fed any longer in utero a hormone is released that causes her womb to begin contracting. This will open the pathway for the baby to pass through. The fluid that surrounded the baby and kept it safely in the womb is released and the baby has only one option and that is birth. Our introduction to God and the process by which we come to Him may be fast or it may be slow depending on our individual circumstances and on us. When my eldest niece was born it took over sixteen hours for her to make her entrance. This long process doesn't put the baby in distress and is normal for a first pregnancy. My second niece however came fast and furious and caused my sister-in-law a great deal of pain. All three of my nieces came early but they came into this world when they were caused to do so. This does not mean that God does all the work and we do nothing but rather we participate by accepting truth and allowing Him to deliver us into the spiritual world. We have to be completely transformed and birth illustrates the becoming new but also starting over and understanding like babies we have to grow up spiritually. So we receive birth and that birth come Jesus says "from above". Unfortunately some English translations translate this as "born again" and this is incorrect because Jesus is explaining where the birth comes from and that is "above" meaning "from God" and not "born again" which doesn't tell us from what or where have we been born. "Born again" also is incorrect because we are born physically once and we are born spiritually once therefore, born again is really inaccurate . So Jesus tells Nicodemus, "Truly, Truly I am always saying to you if not this one had been born from above he is absolutely not able". "He is absolutely not able" in Greek is ou (3756) the absolute negative particle which means it is impossible for something to occur and dunamai (1410) to be able, to have the power to do something. The negative particle ou is used often in the New Testament but the English translates it and the relative negative particle the same, "not". Here Jesus stresses that we cannot in any way obtain the ability to recognize and understand the kingdom of God without having been born from above. Dunamai is in the present tense, middle voice and indicative mood. If we are born from above we can constantly recognize and understand the kingdom of God. The present tense remember is ongoing action that doesn't tell us when it will end. If we are not born from above it is impossible for us to recognize and understand the kingdom of God. Birth from above is imperative for identifying and understanding the kingdom of God. I was born in the South as were generations of my ancestors going back to the early eighteen hundreds. Being born in the South there are cultural, religious, artistic and dietary differences than other parts of the country. My birth into the South made me not just a part of it but loyal to it. I understand the subtle use of language and manners that those from up North or out West don't detect. If these individuals were to come across someone that claimed to be from the South they wouldn't be able to tell for sure and would rely on the accent alone. In the same way if we are not from it how can we identify and understand something like the kingdom of God? Next dunamai is in the middle voice which tells us that something or someone is influencing or motivating this "one" to have the ability to recognize and understand the kingdom of God if they are born from above. If however they have not been born from above, the negative particle ou tells us that absolutely in no way and an individual identify and understand the kingdom of God because they have rejected that birth. If you see a middle voice especially in texts that deal with doing something spiritually the Spirit is the usually the One motivating the action. This is an incredible truth that the Spirit causes us to want to know spiritual things. Next we have the infinitive eido (1492) which is in the aorist tense and active voice. Eido and ginosko (1097) are often misunderstood because the Greek process of learning isn't explained. Greeks used vocabulary to explain the progression of learning with ginosko being the acquiring of information and learning how something or someone works but with a relational model. Eido however is the end result of ginosko. As children we are taught the alphabet and how those letters form words. This is ginosko and in this process we sound out words to know how to read them. The end result is recognizing and understanding the words we see not just in books but in anything that contains language. So Jesus isn't talking about "see" which is how the English translators interpreted it but without being born from above it is impossible to recognize or understand the kingdom of God. This infinitive is in the aorist tense just as the "had been born". They are a packaged deal and must be recognized as such. The Spirit points out what is of that kingdom and what is not in our process of accepting Christ, because God knows remember who will accept Him out of that process and who won't. Those He knows will accept Him their process in coming to Him is the delivery time and part of the birth in which the kingdom of God is revealed. Recognizing is important but understanding the kingdom of God is equally important and part of our growth in Christ. Many believers might be able to recognize the things of the kingdom of God but do not have a good understanding of it. Birth gives us the opportunity and ability to recognize and understand but it is a choice we must decide if it is important enough to us to have and pursue. Lastly is "to have recognized and understood the kingdom of God". "The kingdom of God" is the accusative singular feminine form of the root basileia (932), royal kingdom or dominion and the genitive, singular masculine form of Theos (2316). Matthew calls it "the kingdom of heaven" while Luke, Mark and John call it primarily "the kingdom of God". In the Old Testament it was called Zion the city that Jews would see as the final resting place after death and after the final judgment. "The kingdom of God" Jesus has said is not of this world, it is a spiritual place here while we are in our fallen physical forms but the reality of it is when the tribulation is over and the second coming of Christ is done, the millennium is over and the heavens and the earth pass away we'll find a magnificent incorruptible all consuming home and sanctuary. God's reign as King of this kingdom is permanent and irrevocable and Christ's gift to purchase the subjects for this kingdom makes it a different expensive kingdom. In His era, kings taxed the subjects of the kingdom to pay for the king's army and luxury but in this kingdom God sacrificed Himself to get back those taken from Him and protect them under His name. This kingdom doesn't function as earthly ones do. The King conquers spirits and minds to save them and free them from spiritual slavery. His riches we have access to and we are given the privilege to come before Him whenever we have needs without fear. Lastly this kingdom is pure, holy and perfect and the end result of God's reign and our acceptance of birth from above. Next we'll examine how all this together creates the first part of Jesus' explanation of the gospel.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

John 3

In verse 2 we see that Nicodemus comes to Jesus by night. In John 2:23 we find out that it was Passover and it was logical that Nicodemus came by night. It was common of that era to meet people for social reasons at night but somehow commentators have read into this that Nicodemus was fearful of the Pharisees seeing him with Jesus. We know from 3:11-12 Jesus stops speaking to Nicodemus and addresses those with Nicodemus. In the Greek text the "you" there is plural and not singular so Jesus isn't speaking just to Nicodemus but others who were there. This is important because you see a division in both intent and understanding of the people with Nicodemus versus Nicodemus' reasons for talking with Jesus. Nicodemus shows his respect by calling Jesus "Rabbi" a Hebrew word meaning teacher. This act we don't see from the Pharisees in other places only by Nicodemus. Notice Nicodemus says that "we have recognized and understood that You have come a teacher from God". Oidamen from oida the older form of eido (1492) is a plural perfect tense verb which tells us again there were people with him and that they had been deliberating concerning Jesus. Eido means to recognize what you are looking at and understanding what you are seeing. Unfortunately it gets slapped with the word "know" or "see" in the English translations. Nicodemus and the "we" claimed to identify the fact that Jesus was authentically from God. He says that Jesus was from God using the preposition apo (575) which means from but more specifically originally from. Para (3844) in contrast means from nearby. English translators add an "as" to make it grammatically correct but in the text Nicodemus and the "we" recognized that Jesus was a teacher also, from God. The word teacher in Greek didaskolos (1320) means one who teaches doctrine so in the Jewish context the teacher answered to the scribes. Jesus was recognized for His ability to teach doctrine with Divine influence but they still didn't see Jesus as an equal or as God but did recognize the fact He had some relationship to God. Now the "we" is questionable in this regard as we will see in 11-12, but Nicodemus seems genuine in his assertion. Nicodemus gives the reasons for why he and the "we" concluded Jesus was a teacher from God, "for this reason no one is able to do these signs which You do except God be with Him." In that era Jews were obsessed with signs because Old Testament prophesy was filled with things to look for when Messiah was coming or the world was being judged. The word in Greek semeion (4592) a miracle that has a spiritual end, which makes them finger marks of God. Paul said that Jews want signs and Greeks knowledge and in this obsession with signs there is an awe at the miracle but no recognition of the spiritual implications. Here however Nicodemus states that he and the "we" did connect the dots and wanted to hear more from Him. Next we'll examine Jesus' response to Nicodemus.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

John 3:1-21

Having studied John 3 earlier this year I discovered a great deal of mistranslation and misunderstanding of this instance in the ministry of Christ. Remember that John is not a synoptic gospel. Instead of starting at the birth of Christ John begins before the creation of the universe. John also uses a more Socratic approach to the retelling of the life of Christ. This just means that the Greek philosopher Socrates asked questions to teach and to learn. If you read through the book of John you find Jesus asking a lot of questions, teaching His audience through this type of discourse. Chapter three is one of these conversations. In verse one we are told a great deal about one of the characters in this chapter. John uses en, the imperfect tense and indicative form of eimi (2258) "be". This is the usual way John introduces someone. I say this because there are instances John uses ginomai (1096) "become" to introduce characters. Because of this if you come across ginomai in an introduction use the literal meaning such as in 1:6, "There became a man". In 2:23-25 we learn when this conversation takes place at the Feast of the Passover. This is important to understand why Nicodemus by night. We will look at that a little later but now we see that Nicodemus was a man out of the Pharisees. The method by which a young man could become a Pharisee depended on his father's position. If a young man's father was a Pharisee then he would be expected to follow in his father's path and be educated to get him past the academic cuts. If a young man didn't have a father who worked in the temple or was a Pharisee then he had to be an exceptional student to make the cuts along the way. This would lead them to the temple to be educated and then they would be initiated into the Pharisees. We see in verse 10 that Nicodemus wasn't just a Pharisee but also a teacher. Some Pharisees held government positions and taught. This is why John points out that Nicodemus was an archon (758), a ruler of the Jews. The Roman government realized that if they appointed the Pharisees over districts to interpret and judge according to Jewish law, they could keep the peace better. So in addition to being a government official he was a teacher. The name Nicodemus means victor among the people. It is interesting that he has a Greek name that isn't a Greek translation of a Hebrew name. He may have been from outside of Judea like Paul or his parents decided to name him with a Greek name. Next we see that Nicodemus came to Jesus by night. Unfortunately commentators have surmised that it was out of fear of the Pharisees. We saw that the Passover Feast was going on when Jesus was in Jerusalem. Passover was a big part of Jewish culture and a busy time for Pharisees. Being both religious and governmental officials they were required to procide over what the priests did not. So it was necessary for Nicodemus to meet Jesus at night after a long Feast period. Also there is another aspect that cancels out fear as a reason. Later in verse 11-12 we find out Nicodemus is not alone because John uses a plural pronoun "you". From the way Jesus addresses them they came with Nicodemus and were more than likely Pharisees. They often would go to check out new Rabbis to see if they were keeping the Law correctly. Keep that in mind when looking at the rest of the chapter I'll continue this tomorrow.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Mercy (cont.)

Mercy on my last post I explained from scripture is compatible with other gifts and also a requirement given to us to use. Prophecy and mercy have to co-exist otherwise the book of Jonah would not have been so remarkable. Jonah didn't want to see the city of Nineveh turn toward God because he knew God kept His promises and wouldn't destroy them. Jonah sits outside the city angry that they were not destroyed knowing they would be the ones to judge Israel according to prophecy. Habakkuk was shown the wickedness of Israel and he cried out for justice until he learned who God was going to use to judge Israel. His cry for justice was not merciless. Habakkuk tells us in 1:4, "Therefore the law is ineffective, and justice is never upheld for the wicked surround the righteous therefore justice comes out perverted." God had mercy on the righteous and the innocent who were being afflicted and oppressed by their own countrymen and women. However when Habakkuk learns that a foreign nation who is in his eyes more wicked than Israel his call for justice is tempered. But God knows compassion has to be stronger than pride. Habakkuk's pride didn't want a nation like the Chaldeans judging Israel because of the shame it would place on God's people. Notice that God's people. God showed Habakkuk that pride blinds an individual from seeing the reason shame must come even to the people of God. That end is blessing and mercy. In 3:18-19 we see that Habakkuk gets it and is humbled before the Lord, "Yet I will exult in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation, Jehovah is my strength and He has made my feet like hinds' feet and makes me walk on my high places." Without mercy Habakkuk would not have heard from the Lord and seen what he saw among the people. Both these prophets show us that Gal. 5:22-23 must exist within us in order for the the words of the Lord to come to us and out of us. Paul says agape, unconditional, sacrificial, proactive and responsive not reactive love must be an inward production of the Spirit followed by joy which is inward stability not moved by what is going on around you. Next is peace, the ceasing of our working against the Spirit and instead participating with Him, and makrothumia, patience with people or being slow to lose your temper with others, being predictable and mature. Following makrothumia is chrestotes being beneficially useful to those around you and then agathosune being beneficially good in addition to being beneficially useful. Next we see pistis, trusting because we are so persuaded by God and passionate to act out of that trust which leads to praotes understanding and trusting God's sovereignty that we treat each situation individually waiting for God to tell us what is the appropriate response. Out of all of these comes self-control or rather being master over one's body, emotions and logic. These characteristics actually define the mercy God wants us to have. For that reason we must not be spineless or an enabler but we must also be empathetic, useful in God's economy and proactive. Mercy like humility and agape must be God's possession and come only from Him or else we are promoting a bad imitation of the real thing and an enemy of the gospel.