They’re beautiful, these Greek words!
And Brother Lawrence’s secret is hidden within them…
Just take a gander at them, and I think you’ll quickly guess which are sources of certain English words. I think you’ll also detect something of their differences in meaning–even though they’re all translated “work” or “working” in our New Testaments:
Which leads you to think of energy?
Which would be the source of our word ergonomics?
Where do you think our word synergy came from?
How about dynamo, dynamics, and dynamite?
But right now, let’s just take a look at one of these, one that shows us a wonderful phenomenon as it’s presented in scripture–the phenomenon that Brother Lawrence got a grasp on, which made his life such a sought-after example for others seeking God…
It’s ENERGEO. In all the following scriptures some form of this Greek word occurs, and is translated “work.” (Hover your cursor over the reference and the verse will appear.) The important question about each verse is “Who’s at work here? (It might also be helpful to keep in mind that the “EN” in ENERGEO means “in” or “inward.”)
1 Co 12:4-6, 10, 11
Eph 1:11; [“I pray that… ] Eph 1:18-19, 20; 3:7,20
Phil 2:13; 3:21
In all of the above, do you see what I see? God’s mighty energy working in people or circumstances.
However, God is not the only energy at work in people and circumstances. Look at these horrors:
2 Th 2:7
Now, if you do quirky notations in your Bible like I do, you might want to put a little lightning zig-zag over top of the word “work” in each of the above “energeo” instances in your your own Bible. It might make a helpful reminder in your future Bible reading or study…
But that’s just one of the words translated “work” in the NT. And with the others we could go on and on. So let’s just stop and re-capture our purpose in doing this word study on “work” in the first place.
It’s expressed at the end of this past post. In it, we were trying to wrap our minds around the kind of help that Brother Lawrence received from God in his (work) efforts to walk and live and breathe continual communion with God. We were seeking to find where God’s working ends and our working picks up. We wanted to learn as well as we could manage, just how this synergy takes place– so that we might be able to live more connected with God ourselves.
We had come to Philippians 2:12-13 as a key scripture to get a grasp on, to understand how God’s working in us (energeo, as above), and ourselves doing some kind of work/effort on our part function together, how we do our part and what to look to God for Him to do.
Well, that first “work” in verse 12 (“work out your own salvation…”) turns out to be a rather different construction, and isn’t included in our above list of “beautiful Greek words.” It’s katergozomai, which is made up of the prefix kata (“a preposition denoting motion or diffusion or direction from the higher to the lower”) and the base word ergozomai (which is the middle voice of ergon, above, which usually has more to do with the laboring kind of work). But the thing about katergozomai is that in most other occurrences of it in scripture, it isn’t even translated “work,” or “work out,” but more often “do, commit, produce, bring about… ”
It’s about hooking up with something and following through on it, sometimes almost like riding a wave. The something might be a process, or the working of God, or (in the negative) sin. The second example (riding the wave of God’s Spirit) was what Paul wanted the Philippian believers to be doing. It’s what he was urging in Philippians 2:12-13. And that’s exactly what Brother Lawrence was evidently doing.
God, in His great spiritual energy, works in our lives, and circumstances, and most importantly, in us, according to His will and desire for us, and our part is to to join in on that, pick up on it, and cooperate in following through.
In what ways do you think you could be enabling yourself to “work” more toward this end?
What wave(s) are you riding?