Welcome to week 2 of our study! Last week we examined, and then re-examined the heart. We reviewed and analyzed scripture, asked hard questions of ourselves, and moved forward towards Holy Grit.
This week, we’re taking on the second task Jesus listed in Mark 12:30 “…and with all your soul..”
What does it mean to have a tough SOUL? What does that look like? How can we achieve it?
I think when we talk about being tough, our minds initially go straight towards sweat or dirt. But let’s not stop there. Let’s keep looking. Because for each of us, tough will look, sound, feel, and perhaps even smell different.
Tough, in our particular context, will be the hard thing the Lord calls us to, or circumstances we have to face. Like we mentioned last week – doing the tough thing is hard because it isn’t always simple. We may still be doing hard work, but what is tough, and leads to Holy Grit – is the hard thing that does not come easy.
For some, tough might be walking past a certain aisle in the grocery store. For others, tough may be laying down our pride and doing or saying the uncomfortable, but necessary thing. A wise friend reminded me that the tough thing may actually be a simple, logical thing – but still hard because we don’t want to do it.
Tough may look like putting yourself out there, starting that new project, or asking for that position. Tough is the alarm clock reminding us to get alone with God when we’re desperate for 30 more minutes under the covers.
Whatever it looks like in your life – know that God already knows. He’s called you to it for His greater, perfect purpose. He’s asking you to get uncomfortable because he has better.
We’ll begin the week by firming up our understanding of the Biblical terminology and discuss working definitions that will carry us throughout our week of study.
The term used in the original text of Mark 12:30 for soul is the Greek transliteration, psychē.
Interestingly enough, the same word can be used in multiple ways, all dependent upon the context. While we are here to talk about the soul, know that the same Greek root can be additionally used as:
- the seat of the feelings, desires, affections, aversions (our heart, soul etc.)
- the (human) soul in so far as it is constituted that by the right use of the aids offered it by God it can attain its highest end and secure eternal blessedness, the soul regarded as a moral being designed for everlasting life
- the soul as an essence which differs from the body and is not dissolved by death (distinguished from other parts of the body)
If you remember from our post on the Shema last week, the Old Testament counterpart of Mark 12:30, is Deuteronomy 6:4. To make things a little more interesting we’ll examine the Hebrew transliteration for soul, as the New and Old Testaments were written in different languages.
Soul, in the Hebrew is nephesh, and the definition, although similar, is not exactly the same:
soul, self, life, creature, person, appetite, mind, living being, desire, emotion, passion
- that which breathes, the breathing substance or being, soul, the inner being of man
- living being
- living being (with life in the blood)
- the man himself, self, person or individual
- seat of the appetites
- seat of emotions and passions
- activity of mind
I hope these references, straight from BlueletterBible.org are helpful and fascinating. It’s incredibly helpful to go back to the original text and make connections that lead me to deeper understanding of the passage. Further understanding of the context of the passage, time period, writer, and original language can always lead to greater personal application.
Let’s move forward as we cite a few verses that we might understand as ‘working definitions’ for soul. Because even though it’s hard work, and not the most flowery or emotional post you’ll read from me, I feel that it’s essential we define and understand what God is asking of us in loving him with all of our soul. I will underline in the passage where our Hebrew or Greek transliteration is found.
From the Old Testament:
Genesis 2:7 “Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” (NIV)
From the New Testament:
Matthew 10:28 “Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” (NLT)
Hebrews 4:12 “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (ESV)
Colossians 2:23 “Whatever you might do, work from the soul, as to the Lord and not to men” (Berean Literal Translation)
- It’s worth pointing out here that Colossians 2:23’s use of psychē has been translated several ways:
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters,
Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.
Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men,
Whatever you are doing, work at it with enthusiasm, as to the Lord and not for people,
Even though there are many more verses we could dissect – let’s settle on these as we have the rest of the weeks’ quiet times together.
Genesis 2:7 tells us that God literally breathes life into our souls. Matthew 10:28 indicates that only God can destroy the soul.
Colossians 2:23 encourages believers to work out of the soul, for God’s honor instead of others. Hebrews 4:12 states that the word of God is powerful enough to divide the soul from the spirit to make out the most secret, inward feelings.
So we know that the soul cannot be destroyed by anything on Earth, can create work, and can be ‘called out’ by the Bible.
I don’t know about y’all – but today has felt heavy. I’ve asked a lot of our minds, myself included.
It’s more fun to just talk and visit. It’s easier to write about my daughter’s toddler tantrums leading me towards Christ whilst forming flowery prose together like a fishtail braid.
But occasionally – we need to do grind work so that we can walk closer towards Holy Grit. We have to be challenged in order to be better.
As we gather here, especially today, we need to make sure we understand what we’ve been asked to do in the word.
Following and understanding God is a complex thing, much more difficult to pull off than a fishtail braid.
In our culture, especially Church culture I fear, we assume everyone knows everything we’re talking about. Particularly when it comes to overused and often misunderstood ‘Christianese’ phrases and literature. If you’re anything like me, you nod along, completely lost in the conversation, all the while apathetically accepting the fact that I’m still missing the point of whatever someone was trying to tell me.
I confess to have even re-quoted the same jargon I’ve heard without going back and doing the mental workout to make sure I comprehend the depth of the phrase or colloquialism.
Today, let’s reflect on the fact that we’ve reversed the scenario. We’ve done the studying to ensure that as we move forward in our time together, and in our walk with Christ, we won’t be quoting misunderstood phrases, but offering life-altering truths with eternal implications.
If you are still here with us – I believe it’s because you want more. You want more than a cultural religion. You’ve been reading along because perhaps you’ve been just like Heather and me, wrapped up in a shallow faith, and you want to go deeper.
Maybe something has knocked you down – and you know you’ll need a heavy dose of Holy Grit to get back up again.
If so – I want to share one last thing with you all.
Matthew 5:3 is the very first Beatitude listed in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.
It reads: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
Spirit, in this verse is a synonym of our Greek term for soul, psychē. The transliteration of spirit here is pneuma and has similar implications.
According to my ESV Study Bible, the ‘poor in spirit’ recognize they are in need of God’s help.
I don’t know about y’all, but sometimes, acknowledging that I cannot do everything on my own feels almost embarrassing. Asking for help is often equal parts awkward and humbling. Yet, accepting help is admitting that we are incomplete without God and addresses our most fundamental need for a Savior.
I think a true woman of Holy Grit knows she needs God. She admits that she can’t do it on her own. When she is poor in spirit, and completely broken, Matthew 5:8 reminds her that the battles of life will not defeat her. She can rest in the promise of heaven.
Holy Grit doesn’t mean we have it together – it means we trust in the one true God who does. It means we’ve given Him our souls for all of eternity. Holy Grit consists of confessing our sins, acknowledging the Most High King as Father – and securing our place in Heaven with Him.
Some of us have done that, but need to work on our relationship with the Father. Some of us are fighting the good fight, day after day, but we’re run down, and are here for refreshment.
Some of us may have never officially professed Christ as the Good Father. If you have not, please feel invited to. Wherever you are in your life, whatever your season or circumstances, it’s a good time to become a Daughter of the King. Heather or I would be honored to speak with you – or even just be praying with you and for you. Please feel welcome to reach out to either of us, or another Bible-believing Christian woman near you.
This week we will keep pushing ourselves towards Holy Grit as we study together during our Guided Quiet Times. I want you to make them your own. Jot down notes, write verses on index cards and put them in obvious places. Start or re-start a prayer journal, write down thoughts from our time together.
This is your study as much as it is ours, and remember that God is interested in fellowship with His children. The work we put in will not come back void.
See you tomorrow,