Surely, Jim Class isn’t going to contain bathroom humor this week?
He wouldn’t resort to that would he?
The answers to both of those questions are yes. But to clarify the last one, it isn’t really a last resort or some desperate attempt to gain readership or grow the church. It just works with the topic.
I don’t think I could even begin to put a number on the hours of pre-marital counseling I have conducted. I have officiated close to a hundred weddings. I usually have couples attend four to six sessions of about an hour each (there are exceptions and difficulties that have lessened those numbers, but rarely).
On top of that, I worked as an associate pastor at one church where I did all of the premarital counseling for the entire staff, whether I actually conducted the wedding or not (due to the fact that I have a number of years working in the mental health field).
That means that throughout my 22 years of ministry and through my time working as a liaison for the court system at a marriage and family therapy clinic, I have read many books, attended countless seminars, was enrolled in several classes, and received a number of certifications in the area of marriage and family counseling.
When I read the Bible or other Christian publications with a message that relates to this area, my ears perk up. I’m always looking for new ideas, good object lessons, and unique ways to incorporate Biblical principles in an attempt to enhance my counseling sessions.
I have recently sent my curriculum off to a publisher for review, but I am still looking for new ideas, and recently I found one. It was in daily devotional series that I use called, “Sparkling Gems from the Greek” by Rick Renner.
I have read many of Brother Renner’s books, articles, and watched or listened to a countless number of his sermons. From my perspective, he has one of the best grasps of the Greek language, particularly as it pertains to the New Testament, of any modern Greek scholar.
On the 13th of October Renner referred to the following verse:
I Peter 3:8 Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: (NKJV)
As he expounded on this verse, he revealed some very eye-opening and insightful tidbits concerning the word compassion. Which led me to the inspiration for today’s Jim Class.
As I work with couples on planning a marriage (the wedding is a very small part of the marriage), I broach the subject of differences and difficulties they might encounter early on in their married life. And the bathroom does come up.
I talk about courtesy in the little things, like rolling the toothpaste up from the end as opposed to squeezing it in the middle, or putting the toilet seat down, and the maybe most dubious faux pas of all, deciding with way the toilet paper should come off the roll – over or under?
All of these bathroom disagreements have led to tension in marriages. Hopefully they have been overcome, but they can still create unwanted moments if they aren’t anticipated and effectively dealt with.
As you have likely deduced, these are not the subjects that inspired me this week as it is obvious that I have dealt with them many times in the past, long before I read the Sparkling Gem from the 13th.
The word that I am inspired by this week is pitiful. This is a word that we have all used from time to time, usually in the context of having sympathy or empathy for a given person or group of people. And, that is an accurate use of the word, particularly in the Greek rather than the English etymology. (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, eusplagchnos, G2155)
The word pitiful is a compound word in the Greek and Renner pulled out a much “deeper” meaning than I had ever heard before. The first word is “eu” and means well or good or pleased about something. The second part of the word is “splagchnos,” and is the part of the word I want to discuss with you this week. (Sparkling Gems from the Greek, Rick Renner, October 13th entry.)
The word “splagchnos” is the word for “intestines” (Renner and Strong’s). Renner expounded on the word more than Strong. He said that is used to describe deeply felt affections.
This is the same word that Paul uses to describe his feeling for Onesimus in Philemon 1:12 and that is used in reference to Jesus when he felt “compassion” in Matthew 14”14, 15:32, and Mark 1:41and other places in the Bible. These references translate the word as pitiful and as compassion, but it is the same Greek word, “eusplagchnos,” (Renner).
Here comes the bathroom reference. These feelings of compassion referenced using this word “eusplagchnos” are so strong within a person toward another, that it can be said to resemble an urgent bowel movement (Renner).
The takeaway is this, that the desire to help in a given situation is so strong that a person would have to try very hard to ignore this intense, inward desire.
I don’t mean to be gross or irreverent, but we all know what would happen if we began ignoring what our physical bodies are telling us when it is time to “hit the head,” or “powder one’s nose,” or even, “use the restroom,’ – there could very well be dire consequences.
Let’s stop here and reflect. In this section of scripture, Peter is talking to husbands and wives. The focus of his use of the word “eusplagchnos” is directed at married couples. Meaning we should be having this strong, deep felt desire to do good toward the one we are married to, and not leave it undone.
The ramifications of ignoring spiritual urgings could also be dire (especially in a marriage relationship). Someone may miss the opportunity to hear the life changing message of Jesus Christ. Another might not get the counsel they need in a difficult circumstance, or may not hear a sermon they needed because we decided not to offer them a ride to church.
These urgings are as immediately noticeable physically, but could very well be just as costly, or more so, spiritually. How many times have we ignored the small prompts we get to help or say something nice? These urgings might be hindering us from developing our spiritual sensitivity to the point that we don’t even hear or sense those urgings.
But how much more fulfilling could our Christian experience begin to be if we train ourselves to follow that leading to help someone load their groceries, or buy someone’s lunch, or tell someone about our experience with Jesus.
We are made in the image of God and that means spiritually and physically. We are to train ourselves in His ways from an early age. That tells me that like training for a sport, or a specific type of work we could become more and more proficient at any endeavor with practice.
I am a strong believer that those practices could be spiritual as well. Simply by listening to that still small voice inside of us is a form of training or practice. And each time we give in to the “urge” to do what God is telling us, the more likely we will be to, not only get more urgings but possibly receive more impactful ones and be led to do more for Him than we ever thought possible.
In other words, spend more time doing spiritual toilet training!