Today we are kicking off part one of our two part Valentine series.
In Acts 26:14 Jesus is talking to Saul on the road to Damascus and says, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the pricks.” Here Jesus is making reference to an old Hebrew proverb that would have been understood by anyone that Saul would have told this story to later. A prick is a sharp point made out of metal or wood that you either attach to the front of a cart or on the end of a stick. So that when the livestock that’s pulling the cart kicks backwards they would kick the prick. The pricks would motivate the animal to keep moving forward.
It is with that in mind that I present to you the title of today’s podcast, “True Love Is A Prick.”
In Genesis 2:7 God created Adam; he formed him out of the dust of the ground and breathed the breath of life into his nostrils. Adam is considered to be the most perfect man ever created. We’re talking about a time before sin had entered the hearts and minds of mankind, so he definitely had a leg up on you and I. The problem, however, is that Adam was found lacking. If we jump down to verse 18, we see that God says, “It is not good for the man to be alone.” If Adam was indeed perfect and not lacking in anyway then he would have been self-sufficient and it would have been fine for him to be alone, right? God goes on to say, “I will make a helper corresponding to him.” The King James there says, “I will make an help meet for him.” Or in the Hebrew it’s three words, aw-saw’ ay’-zer neh’-ghed.
That “neh’-ghed” there, that they translated “meet for him” in the King James, or “corresponding to him” in the Christian Standard Bible is a word that means:
H5048 נֶגֶד neged neh'-ghed From H5046; a front, that is, part opposite; specifically a counterpart, or mate; usually (adverbially, especially with preposition) over against or before: - about, (over) against, X aloof, X far (off), X from, over, presence, X other side, sight, X to view.
In practical use you would use this when you were talking about two items that perfectly complement each other. Like peanut butter and honey, or peanut butter and jelly, or peanut butter and chocolate, or peanut butter and celery. I’ve been watching my calories lately and man I like peanut butter… Owee, OK…Um… Where one thing is weak the other is strong, where one is bitter the other is sweet, where one is slow to act the other is fast.
God auditioned several helpers for Adam by creating wild animals and birds. He brought each one to Adam to see what he would name them and if Adam would accept them as a good neh’-ghed, the perfect help meet, but Adam didn’t find any of them to be good enough. You probably know the rest of the story; God then put Adam into a deep sleep.
Have you ever had surgery where they put you under before? I have, I had to have my gallbladder removed in 2009. I remember lying on the bed in this little room with the anesthesiologist. We were making small talk while he put the finishing touches on the concoction he was going to inject me with when another person in scrubs walked up and said, “I’ve never seen you use that one before.” The anesthesiologist looked up and at him and replied, “Yeah, this one’s a big guy and I want to make sure he stays out for the whole thing.” He looked back at me and asked, “That OK with you? That I make sure you stay asleep for the whole thing right?” “Uh, uh.” I replied as I shook my head. As he started to squeeze the plunger on the stuff that was going to keep me from waking up mid surgery he said, “OK, now count down from 100 nice and slow. I don’t know how long it’ll take for this to kick in.” I got to 97 and the next thing I knew I was surrounded by strangers in scrubs, I was confused, disoriented, and angry; Oh I Was Angry, and I had the worst pain I’d ever felt in my life up in my shoulders. The same thing with Adam here right? I imagine God telling him to lie down and count backwards from 100, but Adam probably didn’t have quite the same experience waking up that I did.
While Adam was asleep God opened him up, took one of his ribs, closed the hole in his flesh back up and made the rib into a woman. God presented the woman to Adam. Adam approved of this help meet, in Genesis chapter 2 verse 23 he said, “This one, at last, is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh; this one will be called “woman,” for she was taken from man.” This drive we have to find someone to share our hearts with is because we all need a neh’-ghed, a help meet. The whole thing of romance, love, and frilly hearts can be fun, but it can also be heartbreaking and lonely.
Relationships are based on differences. In a worldly relationship each one thinks the other has something they don’t have themselves. They come together, each to complete themselves and rob the other. They stay until they think that there is nothing left to steal, and then move on. Conversely, a holy relationship starts from a different premise, where each one knows they are lacking, but have something to offer that the other doesn’t. They come together, each to serve, and give freely of themselves to each other.
The holy relationship or true love takes on the role of the prick that Jesus was talking about in Acts 26, pushing each other forward in growth. This rule is true not just in romantic relationships, but in all the relationships across the spectrum of your life; family, friends, acquaintances… Just as Proverbs 27:17 says, “Iron sharpens iron, and one person sharpens another.”
This is what I keep in mind in all my relationships. I look for ways to help sharpen the other person and I make myself vulnerable to them to sharpen me. If they fail to challenge me or lack the vulnerability to be challenged by me then I make mental note and I proceed accordingly in my dealings with them. I hold most dear the relationships that I have with those who challenge me and help me keep sharpened, those who’ll help me grow; those who help me become a better Christian, a better Husband, and a better Father. Those are the ones that I draw in close. Those are the ones that I can trust will be a prick goading me forward for as long as we are in a season that God has put us together. Honestly, I do it this way because if I’m not growing, if I’m not getting better, if I’m not working on myself and allowing myself to be open to others helping me grow, if I’ve rejected growth then I’m just dying.
Until next time…