"Consider," a Thought Provoking Study
Godís word is meant and even designed to be studied, not just casually read. Paul told Timothy to "handle aright the word of truth" (2 Tim. 2: 15). Such study involves "diligence" (see American Standard Translation of 2 Timothy 2: 15). So many truths are missed due to what I term, surface feeding and inattention. The deeper we go, the more meaning and understanding we can take away from our biblical studies. Be assured that the scriptures claim plenary inspiration; that is, the very words are presented by the Holy Spirit (I Cor. 2: 13, cp. 2 Tim. 3: 16, 17). Such serious study is presented in a multitude of ways. One way is by word study. Let us, therefore, examine a relevant word, the word "consider."
There are a combined thirty different Hebrew and Greek words translated "consider" in our common English translations. Their collective meaning is: "To behold, to consider or act wisely, to set my heart, to learn thoroughly, and to perceive with the mind (Old Testament Word Studies, by Wilson and Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words by W. E. Vines). As is apparent, "consider" involves both the intellect and as precious and pervasive truths are learned, the emotions. Moreover, the learned and embraced truths resulting from "considering" are practical truths, having to do with values and how we live and think. The scriptures, in fact, command us to "consider" (cp. 2 Tim. 2: 7, Gal. 6: 1). Also resident in "consider" is the matter of truths that involve stimulus and meditation. When one "considers" poverty, one often observes sloth and lack of enterprise. When viewing such conditions, we are to "consider it well" to learn the deeper lessons (Prov. 24: 30-34, KJV). Mind status is so very important, but often overlooked. When viewing the virtuous woman of Proverbs 31, little attention is often paid to her mental acumen. Yet, her thinking, I submit, was productive of her spirituality and even her material acquisitions. Relative to her agricultural pursuits, we are told, "She considereth a fieldÖ" (Prov. 31: 16). She did not simply select a field based on her subjective response to it or her present mood. She did not simply think about the field: She studied the field or "considered" it. No doubt involved in her "considering" it, she studied the grade of the land, the type of soil regarding its apparent acidity, the presence of rocks, clay, etc. May I suggest that her thinking is behind her success, not only in the matter of the purchasing of a field for agriculture, but also her success in other areas. In view of the attention she gave to the land, why would we not think that she intelligently studied her prospective husband and gave much thought to all serious matters of pursuit. In other words, her success did not just happen, it was the product of, "Öto learn thoroughly, and to perceive with the mind."
This study especially applies to elders and preachers among Godís people. Let us turn our attention to some specific areas regarding which God has told us to "consider" or ponder and learn.
We are to consider the heavens. It has been said that one might be an atheist should they never look up at the vastness of our universe, but never if consideration is given to the multitudinous heavenly bodies.
"1: O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! who hast set thy glory above the heavens. 2: Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger. 3: When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; 4: What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?" (Ps. 8.)
How can the most productive imagination even for a moment believe that this universe just happened, a universe indicative of design, order, and high intelligence? Notwithstanding everything about man shouting creation, man pales when the universe is considered or much serious thought is given to it.
Godís testimonies are to be considered. We are truly in an age of lawlessness (cp. I John 3: 4). Organized religion often very unashamedly belittles and rejects Godís commandments, viewing them as unimportant and constituting "terrible legalism" when dedicated effort is made to obey them. Many of Godís testimonies are misunderstood, largely due to lack of study and consideration. Notwithstanding, the Palmist declared:
"95: The wicked hope to destroy me, but I contemplate Your decrees" (Ps. 119, CSBV).
Over and over the Psalms set forth the value and essentiality of Godís laws (cp. Ps. 119: 97, 98, 100, 104, 105, 112). Moreover, Godís laws are observed as necessary. Some say, "Commandments are not necessary, but love is!" Yet, John wrote: "3: For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous" (I John 5).
Many flagrantly set aside, for instance, water baptism due to lack of consideration. If they would thoroughly learn what the scriptures say about water baptism, they would realize that baptism is for "remission of sin," it contacts Jesusí blood, the old man is officially put off and the new man put on to walk in newness of life, and it places one in Christ, where salvation is found (Acts 2: 38, 22: 16; Acts 2: 38 cp. Matt. 26: 28; Rom. 6; Gal. 3: 26, 27). Most today view the church as a glorified social and welfare institution. Yet, when Jesusí church is really considered, it is a spiritual institution that has as its chief work the presentation of the gospel (I Tim. 3: 15; 5).
The ant is to be considered. America is now in the process of many financial, social, and moral dilemmas. Government has transitioned from being a simple entity to create at atmosphere in which Americans can in safety pursue prosperity by their labor and enterprise to a give away, provide for all, socialistic monstrosity. Many believe it is governmentís job to support them and address all their problems. Government has become a tool for ambitious politicians to buy votes and appeal to certain minorities. The instruction of the wise man is very opportune:
"6: Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: 7: Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, 8: Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest. 9: How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep? 10: Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: 11: So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man" (Prov. 6).
The ant under consideration is the Alta Barbara (Eastern black ant) or perhaps the Alfa Structor (brown ant). Regardless, there are certain static truths relative to the ant. Some of these truths are structure, individual labor, and taking care of their own. When one really considers the ant, one appreciates comments such as provided by the Pulpit Commentary:
"The teacher, as it were, argues: If the ant, so insignificant a creature in the order of the animal kingdom is so provident, how much more should you be Ė you, as man endued with superior intelligence, and with so many more resources at hand, and with greater advantage! If the ant, with none to urge, direct, or control her work, is so industrious, surely she provides an example at which you, the sluggard, should blush, since there is every external incentive to rouse you to actionÖ."
We are taught to consider sin. First, the Christian is to consider the reality and nature of sin (Ezek. 5-14). Sin is lawlessness or not keeping Godís law (I John 3: 4). Sin is progressive and results in spiritual death if repentance is not experienced (Jas. 1: 14ff.). Sin, as a rule, is the result of our own sinfulness, wanting to do what we desire regardless of what God desires for us (Jas. 1: 13). We must also consider our own sin before thought is given to the sin of others (Matt. 7: 1ff.).
In the process of the consideration of sin, the sin of others must also be intelligently viewed (Ezek. 18: 5-13, 14). Effort is to be made to retrieve others from their sin (Gal. 6: 1). To successfully reclaim one from sin is to, in the language of James, save a soul from death (Jas. 5: 19, 20).
Church problems must be considered. Too often, church problems are hidden or, as the saying goes, "swept under the carpet." Such is not in keeping with Godís will and teaching. When some came from Jerusalem teaching false doctrine we are told:
"5: But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses. 6: And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter" (Acts 15).
Paul and Barnabas examined and studied the matter, they "considered" the event and intelligently responded. There was a discussion rendered by Spirit led men using express command, approved example, and necessary inference and based on the resultant facts, decisions were reached (Acts 15: 7ff.). It turned out that these men who came binding the Law of Moses as a system for salvation acted without the sanction of the Jerusalem church. Hence, the reality of the problem, the nature of the problem, and the involved circumstances of the problem were first established before action was taken. Rest assured, though, action was taken and must be taken today when there are such problems within churches.
Christians are taught to consider one another. One apparent reason God has taught Christians to come together in the local church situation is so they can know one another and "consider" one another.
"24: And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: 25: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching" (Heb. 10).
The Amplified attempts to bring out the expanded meaning and nuances of "consider" in the following rendering: "And let us consider and give attentive, continuous care to watching over one another, studying how we may stir up (stimulate and incite) to love and helpful deeds and noble activities."
Too often within the same local church very little knowledge and attention is given to one another. Weaknesses are never helped and strengths are not encouraged (cp. I Thes. 5: 14).
In closing, why are so many perennially experiencing all manner of difficulty? It is often because they do not "pay attention" to life and they render bad judgement. Why do so many seem to run head long into circumstances that destroy and debilitate them? I submit it is because they do not give "careful thought" to the avoidance of such circumstances (see Prov. 30-34). Why does false doctrine seem to defy the ability of some to discern it (cp. Rom. 16: 17)? Again, it is because they do not "thoroughly learn" the truth and develop the skill to handle it aright (2 Tim. 2: 15). Too many preachers and elders seem mentally impaired due to lack of "intelligent attention" and "analysis," either in terms of happenings or in the matter of sound doctrine. Part, I am convinced, of man being made in the image of God is manís ability to think and reason. Hence, the command to "consider."
Sir Francis Bacon in his essay titled, "Of Studies" wrote: "Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested, that is, some books are to be read only in parts; others to be read, but not curiously; and some few are to be wholly, and with diligence, and attention." In view of the established claims of the Bible, its essential nature, and its value in our lives, the Bible is certainly a Book to be swallowed, chewed and digested, wholly and with diligence and attention (cp. Heb. 6: 5; 5l 12-14).