Some conversations just stick with you.
I recall a very brief conversation I had as a teenager, a conversation with a man who was probably in his late thirties. I asked the gentleman, in some way or other, how his day was going. To this day, I can hear his response, “Oh, you know … Just trying to eek out a living.”
So profound was the impact of that line on me that I remember it today, some forty-five years later. How sad that is. How devoid of joy, excitement, hope, and promise.
Brothers and sisters, we are to live a life of superlatives because we serve a God of superlatives.
I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might.
– Ephesians 1:118-19, NASB
There is nothing mediocre in that passage. Exceeding greatness of God’s power. The strength of his might. The riches of his glory.
I don’t want to bog us down in Greek terminology, but there are two terms – terms that are just so awesome, we really do need to look at them.
To describe this power of God, Paul uses the terms ὑπερβάλλον μέγεθος – (huperballon megathos). That even sounds powerful! Huperballon is an adjective descriptive of throwing or running beyond, exceeding, surpassing or transcending. It implies the boundless dimensions of what it is describing.
Megathos is a term of greatness or vastness. Any term that begins with “mega” is an awesome term!
This is the power that is available to us. As we read on in the passage, we see Paul emphasize that it is the very same power that raised Jesus from the dead.
And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.
– Ephesians 2:6-7, ESV
Contemplate (if we even can) this measure of God’s grace, a grace that is exceedingly rich. And it is the same term as before – huperballon. It is an exceeding abundance of grace poured out on us.
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
– Philippians 4:7, ESV
The peace of God, for the Christ-follower is so abstruse, so “beyond,” that is exceeds or transcends our ability to wriap our minds around it. The peace of God is so profound that it huperekousia our ability to grasp it. Yet, it is ours in Christ.
We don’t need to understand it to have it.
For our light affliction, which is for the moment, worketh for us more and more exceedingly an eternal weight of glory;
– 2 Corinthians 4:17, ASV
I saved this one for last and went with the older American Standard Version, having looked at about thirty different translations to find one that even came close to dealing well with this verse. The old ASV comes closest to grasping what the apostle Paul is saying here.
There is a phrase Paul uses, employing the same term as the first two above, but it seems he is trying to emphasize his point even beyond the extent to which he did so in the other three verses. The phrase we are looking at is “more and more exceedingly.”
In the Greek text it looks like this: ὑπερβολὴν εἰς ὑπερβολὴν. It’s “huperbollein eis huperbollein.” It is exceeding unto exceeding, or surpassing unto surpassing. You can see why the ASV went with “more and more exceedingly.”
For starters, I have difficulty even articulating what “glory” for us entails. What is that stuff? But then to say that our struggles in this life are acheiving for us an exceeding unto exceeding glory – I don’t even know where to go with that, but I know it is a good thing!
Christ-follower, in him we are blessed with power of exceeding greatness, grace of exceeding richness, peace that transcends all comprehension, and glory that is exceeding upon exceeding! Never, ever speak of yourself or your life in terms laced with mediocrity.