A double negative becomes a positive
And which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?
When I was a teenager, reading Matthew 6, I tried to imagine growing an entire cubit in one night. Couldn’t quite picture it. And I was not alone. In his book Truth Be Told, Pastor Fred Gorini admits that some years ago, he had misinterpreted this verse. Of course, I knew that Bible scholars teach that a cubit was about eighteen inches… Nevertheless, reading it the way Jesus said it, would not make sense… One inch? Yes, maybe somehow, someone could gain one inch. Certainly not eighteen inches! Why would Jesus use such an outrageous illustration?
Obviously, He was speaking not of physical growth, but of stature and money.
Jesus told the people worrying about the elite was of no use. It’s easy to identify the status giants today. In Christ’s time, they were scribes, lawyers, and Pharisees. Gorini writes, He was doing what Caleb had done some long years ago… Giving a good report.
Stop, if we can, and look around at where we are today. Admit, if we can, that our most popular icons are opposed to God… to the people of God. The spiritual attack begins in the crib, is global, and never shuts off.
A Christian can feel very much like a grasshopper in the face of today’s giants. There is a fine line between awareness and discouragement. The believer is told to be wise as a serpent, yet innocent as a dove. At times, for some, this will get unbalanced.
One Christian might spend more time unpacking the meaning of today’s events, trying to decipher who the Antichrist might be, than reading the Bible. Another could enjoy playing church with churchfolk all week, their music ministry more a performance than worship, separated from the people that God loves and wants to save. The command is, Be not conformed to this world. But, for now, we are still living here.
Knowing it all is overrated. I was about sixteen when I looked up from Malcolm X’s autobiography and said to my mother out of the blue, “The more you know, the more depressed you get.” She just laughed at me and walked away. I’d stumbled upon the truth found in Ecclesiates 12:14. Much study wearies the flesh.
The key is to be encouraged and to truly walk the walk. The only thing that a believer really needs to know is: When we walk in the Spirit, the Lord Himself guarantees we won’t be put to shame. That is a huge promise. Is it even possible? The Bible says, Yes.
ABOVE IMAGE: Heb 13:5 in the Greek language
SOURCE: Biblos Interlinear Bible
“Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” No wonder that Hebrews 13:5 has been said to contain the most precious double negatives in the Bible. Apparently, it’s most difficult to negate something in the Greek language more strongly, than Hebrews 13:5.
We don’t get the full effect in English, but the original words tell the believer that there is absolutely no way, no, not ever, that God will fail one of His children. Again, the question: Can that really be true? We should test the Lord and see.
Who was Caleb? He gave a good report when other observers gave bad reports. The Book of Numbers recounts how he and Joshua tried to encourage the people. They actually said that the people of the land (the giants) would be as bread (food) for them, as they acted in faith to possess the land, Gorini writes. But the people were caught up in the web of fear and worry.
Caleb’s good report was in the minority. As one pastor said, The majority is not always right. The majority said, “We can’t”… You will find in every group a small minority who will say, “We can do it.”
That is why there is no need for the believer to be alarmed at current events. The Christ follower doesn’t win by attacking or outwitting the giants and their strongholds. The victory is in the faith itself. It is in resting in the Spirit.
This is a difficult word to digest. Especially when our faith is shaken. But the apostle Paul said it: I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. He still felt so strongly after a lifetime of trials. He had overcome the world with faith. The encouraging part: Paul had no choice but to do this one morning at a time, just like us.