In which there are two kinds of daisies

by Craig on June 7, 2011

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ἔργον

It’s Greek.

It’s pronounced air-gone. As in what I might say if I were on the moon – “It’s hard to breathe with all the air gone.”

It means “daisies”.

Just kidding.

It means “works” – as in “faith without works is dead”.

I made a statement a while back, and I said at the time, “I know I’m going to have to back this up.” I said that “works” had two meanings in the New Testament.

Now comes the “backing up” part.

One meaning of “works” is “works of the law”. It’s the Old Testament concept of doing stuff to earn the favor of God. But the gospel plainly states that we cannot do enough, or good enough, “works of the law” to gain our way to heaven.

These are …

the bad kind of “works”

The other meaning of “works” is what I like to call “works of love”.

These works are done after we know Our Lord – and our imperfect “works of love” are covered by Grace.

The quest for perfection but Grace for the quest.

All due respect to the Reformers, but it seems they never really got this dual meaning of “works”. They kind of lumped them together – and labeled “works” as bad.

The word “works” is sprinkled throughout the New Testament like daisies in a field.

And there is no better way to get a handle on what the two kinds of “works” are – than to just run the through the “works daisies” as they spring up in the Bible.

All of the “works daisies” in context…
a context which will define the word…
either the bad and useless kind…
or the nice kind…
the one that gives life to faith.

And without further ado, here’s the first usage of “works” in the New Testament…

A little context…

Our Lord is in the middle of the Sermon on the Mount.

He just finished the Beatitudes,
which by the way are all pretty much impossible,
which I figure He knew,
and He said them anyway,
on purpose…
to show us the impossibility of fulfilling the “law”,
both the letter of the law,
and the spirit of the law.

Then he talks about us being…

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and he concludes that by saying this,

Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.” (MT 5:16)

And there’s that word, “works” – cleverly disguised in my Bible translation as “deeds”. Some translations don’t disguise the word, and just say good “works” but it’s the same word regardless.

Oh, and by the way– the doing of “good works”, in context, is a command from the lips of God himself.

That somehow seems important.

This is just the first one. There are a bunch more…

a bunch of daisies!

I think it’s best to cover each and every one, to give oodles of context for defining the word “works”.

I’m smiling right now…
because I get to go traipsing through the pages of the Bible for a while,
looking for the “works daisies”,
poking around where they grow,
and then determining which kind of daisy it is,
then,
like a honey bee,
be off to the next daisy.

To me – this is incredible fun – and thus the smile.

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Cindy Holman June 7, 2011 at 12:18 pm

I’m smiling too – thanks :)

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Craig June 7, 2011 at 1:58 pm

seriously,it just might be me, but I heart a little project like this. I have a strong hunch that the study is going to support with James says about faith and works – but I’m just going to let the Bible speak for the Bible – everything in context – and the context defining the word. I heart this like crazy! It really DOES make me smile! Thank you Cindy, and God bless and keep you and all of yours.

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Dawn June 7, 2011 at 3:02 pm

Dear Craig,

I really do get your smiling over here. This is the kind of searching fun I like, too. I need to ask a question, though. Is the work to show love word (good work) the same word as the work to earn salvation word (bad work)? If so, then the only way you tell them apart is by the context, yes? or no. It’s a fuzzy day for me. Lots of distractions. I see all these shinies everywhere. Have to entertain tonight. Spent the afternoon chopping food. See what I mean? It is so nice relaxing in this daisy study for a bit. Bye the way, I put fresh cut daisies on my table this morning. Who knew?

Bless you,
Dawn

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Craig June 7, 2011 at 3:24 pm

Dawn, yes it’s the same Greek word for works whether it be good works – which in this particular verse has the word “good” before the word “works” to modify it – or “works” of the law – the kind that can never stack up enough to lead to heaven. So, truly, this is a word that requires context to translate. So I’ll be paying very close attention to the context :-) and yes, who know – daisies – from so far away, without even knowing it, maybe you were the muse in my ear as I wrote this before dawn, Dawn. :)

God bless you – and happy entertaining.

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Linda Kruschke June 7, 2011 at 4:32 pm

Craig, I haven’t been by for a while because I used to have to use a different browser, but I see your site is working in IE now! Yeah! I love flowers, and daisies are one of my favorites. Thank you for creating the connection in my mind between daisies and our works of love (as opposed to those old works of law). I knew this distinction, but I like the way you explained it. Peace, Linda

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Craig June 7, 2011 at 7:08 pm

Linda, thank you. I solved those Internet explorer problems after about my first couple of weeks – so it’s a problem long gone. I would figure that you would know the theology – I’m glad you liked the daisy metaphor. Actually, it’s a distinction I didn’t know about until a few years ago – long after I graduated Seminary. And I’m still learning. Thank you again Linda – and God Bless you.

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Cassandra Frear June 7, 2011 at 7:29 pm

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. – Ephesians 2:10

To me it speaks of how unique our work will be — keyed to our unique design. Of course, there are actually many expressions of good works with various meanings and implications. But I like this verse. I find it strangely comforting.

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Craig June 7, 2011 at 7:51 pm

Cassandra, thank you for reading – and thank you even more for this insightful comment. One of the things I heart best about blogging is this – learning from the people who are gracious enough to read me. I suspected a little of what you are saying would unfold as I travel through these verses. Now I’ll be on the lookout for this aspect of “works” – as you put so well, “how unique our work will be — keyed to our unique design.” I heart that!! Thank you, really, thank you. And God Bless and keep you and yours.

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Andrea Olsen July 1, 2011 at 10:11 pm

Greetings, Craig! I have just discovered your site through Dawn and am so enjoying it. Love the way you write. Further to the idea shared by Cassandra that our works will be as varied and unique as we are as individuals, I want to share one of my favourite scriptures which also has the “daisy” word (even though it is OT). “He (the LORD) fashions their hearts individually; He considers (understands) all their works.” Psalm 33:15 I love the connection between our hearts and our works. (I’m thinking you will heart this, too!) I guess that means that my good works will look different than your good works and that’s a good thing.
I have backtracked through your archives in order to find the beginning of the “daisy chain” and hope to catch up and stay in step.

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Craig July 2, 2011 at 8:53 am

Andrea, welcome! I am thrilled to have you read me. Thank you. And I heart your idea – and your scriptural support for our white daisies being unique – and special – in God’s eyes. One day I may go back and look into the Old Testament words that are equivalent to “ἔργον” – this time I decided to just stay in the New Testament to give immediate context to the word – in order to fully define it. Context, I’ve found, is best when I think about it in ripples. There’s the spot in the middle – then circles around it further and further apart. I wanted to go with the more immediate circles. But James was a very Jewish Christian. And so was Paul – being a former Pharisee and all. The Old Testament would inform the way they looked at daisies. Thank you for reminding me of this. I hearted what you said. And God bless and keep you and each and every one of yours.

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Debbie June 8, 2011 at 1:51 am

I’m smiling thinking about you smiling and traipsing. :) Thank you for being the one who would do such a thing. I’d never have the patience for it, but you do. God bless you as you look for daises with God.

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Craig June 8, 2011 at 3:33 pm

Debbie, I’ll tell you what I told A. – In short, you’re one day behind – when you read the next post you’ll find that I’m smiling, and traipsing, AND tripping. God bless you Debbie.

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Cora June 8, 2011 at 8:53 am

Maybe it’s because I grew up with lots of flannelgraph stories, but pictures seem to be what I need. Pictures have glue and they stick in my mind for a long, long time. Daisies???? I got it!
Sometimes things are so difficult to explain to someone else, even though you have some kind of understanding. I hear myself stumbling over my explanations and the other person looking at me with their mouth hanging open as if all my thousands of words are going completely over their head or falling short of them altogether. Pictures DO say a thousand words. And I’ll be dancing through the daisy patch with you and separating them into two vases. (By the way, I DID make that “dart board” with all the negative voice clouds. It was amazing at how many clouds I ended up with. Pathetic, in fact!!!!)

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A. June 8, 2011 at 1:43 pm

Cora, your words have glue, too. I can ‘see’ what you are saying. This made me smile: “Pictures have glue and they stick in my mind for a long, long time.”

Craig, thank you for this daisy study. Like Debbie, I wouldn’t take the time or rather, I don’t have the training background that you have-and that adds so much, as does how you then pull it all together for us.

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Craig June 8, 2011 at 3:16 pm

A. It’s a little training, a little background, but probably mostly a bit of OCD :-) and you’re one post behind – I messed up on my little project already. God bless you A.

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Craig June 8, 2011 at 3:36 pm

Cora, you have to e-mail me and tell me how you made the board – I need to make one – I want to write a post about that – but I kind of can’t until I make the board. The best I can do is little posty notes – but I want more. I need somebody crafty.

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