I John 3:18 — Act or Career?

(a Lection Reflection on I John 3:18)

If you’ve read some of my Lection Reflections, you know I like word studies. Digging around in the Greek can sometimes give a nuance that we would otherwise miss. This week’s Reflection is going to be short, because the point is short. Let’s see if it’s meaningful as well.

We all know I John 3:18:

Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.

The word I want us to look at is “action” — usually translated as “deed.” The Greek word is ἔργον, which can indeed mean “act, deed, thing done.” So, a single act at a point in time.

However – ἔργον can also mean

business, employment, that which any one is occupied; that which one undertakes to do, enterprise, undertaking

You see where I’m going with this? Instead of thinking of agape love as a series of single acts, what if we thought of it as our work, our daily job, our life’s calling? What if we saw loving the brethren, not as an act of selflessness, but as a career?

Yeah, it may be a stretch, and I’m not sure it’s the best translation. But I will say this: when you look at the context of Jesus laying down his life as the model, the case can be made that Jesus did that as both a single dramatic act at Calvary, and as a career throughout his ministry. Did he not lay aside his claim on his own life when he took on the ministry of the Kingdom, and follow that as his career for the next three years? Even so, we are called to spend the rest of our days laying down our lives in agape love, and loving others as a career, as our daily job. So let’s get up each morning, and go to work.

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