Sunday, September 4, 2011

Words Matter

The Hebrew word for justice is tzedek, which is the root of tzadik (righteous), and also tzedakah (charity).
That was in an e-mail I received, and it was thought-provoking for me. In English there is no correlation between those three words, yet the Bible ties them together so often.  To think that ‘justice’ provides both ‘righteous’ and ‘charity’.  It brings to mind so many verses, and prompted me to look to Strong’s translations in some of my favorites (available on – wonderful resource!).
From H6663; rightness (abstractly), subjectively (rectitude), objectively (justice), morally (virtue) or figuratively (prosperity): - justice, moderately, right (-eous) (act, -ly, -ness).
A primitive root; to be (causatively make) right (in a moral or forensic sense): - cleanse, clear self, (be, do) just (-ice, -ify, -ify self), (be, turn to) righteous (-ness).
However, the graphic is Greek, not Hebrew, and it comes from 1 Corinthians Chapter 13, where it defines charity, which is love.  Strong’s shows:
From G25; love, that is, affection or benevolence; specifically (plural) a love feast: - (feast of) charity ([-ably]), dear, love.
And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:3 KJV)

Does that help you understand the rich young ruler? Matthew 19: 20-25 tells of one who comes to Jesus asking how to be saved.  People still do that today, looking for an answer they can live with, without giving up anything in their current lifestyle.

Jesus goes over the basics, all the things we’re taught from our childhood to do, which the young man affirms he has done.  We still do that today, justifying our lifestyles among the terms society teaches – it’s all relative, right?

Then Jesus tells him the one thing the young man cannot do – give up that which he loves more than God.  To me, that’s what 1 Corinthians 13:3 is talking about.  We can keep God’s commandments.  We can give up all of our physical things to help others.  We can be martyrs to the current cause. 

But, if we do it without love – the agape love – there is no profit to our souls.

We Americans throw the word ‘love’ out in every other sentence. Think of how many times you’ve used the word love recently. Was that use related to the definition you have of charity?  How does it relate to what Christ would have you give up for salvation?

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