February 17, 2019

Gress by Philip C. Strong

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

I’m intrigued by words that we only use with prefixes or suffixes.  For example, I’ve never heard anyone speak of someone being “gruntled”- only “disgruntled” (yes, I am aware that a pig with laryngitis is “disgruntled”).   If a prefix or suffix can be added, doesn’t the root necessarily have to be a word?  Apparently not, at least not in English.  Consider:  If “gress” was a word, and therefore had a meaning, it would have to refer to “movement.”  This conclusion is forced by all the prefixes we add to “gress” that have to do with the direction or type of movement they describe. Consider that…

Egress means outward movement.  To be in Christ, we have to move out of (and get over) ourselves!  “Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If any one wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me’,” Matthew 16:24.  Consider also Philippians 2:3-7, where the example of Jesus emptying Himself and becoming a servant in obedience to God is given to show how we must get outside of ourselves and “regard one another as more important” than ourselves in order to properly serve God and each other.

Congress means together movement (coming together; contrary to popular belief, it does not mean “no movement”!).  On the day of Pentecost and following, saved individuals came together to listen to the apostles’ inspired teaching, to pray, and to the breaking of bread (generally thought to be the commemoration of Lord’s Supper, cf. Acts 20:7), to care for one another, and to simply be together and enjoy each other’s company, Acts 2:42-45.  Great encouragement and growth were the products of this coming together

Progressive means forward movement.  After thanking and commending the Thessalonians for their reception of the gospel, their imitation of the apostles and the Lord in living the gospel, and their continued endurance in all of these areas, Paul urged them to continue to “excel still more,” 1Thessalonians 4:1,10.  He is counseling them to progress- to continue to move forward in their faith!  Peter makes it clear that Christians must add to their faith and grow as security against stumbling, and to make certain of their entrance into heaven, 2Peter 1:5-11.   But on the other hand…

Aggressive means violent movement.  The apostle Paul said, of his life prior to conversion to Christ, that he was a “blasphemer and a persecutor and violent aggressor,” 1Timothy 1:13.  Those violent and aggressive traits and characteristics are supposed to be a part of that which is put away when we come to Christ, cf. Colossians 3:5-11.  We are to be peaceable (loving and making peace), refuse to take our own revenge, and kind to our enemies to overcome evil with good, Romans 12:17-21.

Regressive means backward movement.  After the ancient children of Israel had been freed from slavery by God’s miraculous plagues upon the Egyptians, after they had been miraculously delivered from Pharaoh and the Egyptian army by crossing the Red Sea on dry land, and after they had been miraculously provided for and sustained by God in the wilderness, when they reached the promised land of Canaan and most of the spies sent into it brought back an intimidating report, Stephen says of them, “in their hearts (they) turned back to Egypt,” Acts 7:39 (cf. Numbers 13:25 – 14:4).  The Hebrew writer seems to referencing this turning back when he urges Jewish Christians of his day (and us today as well!), “we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul,” Hebrews 10:39.  Thus, backward movement is the wrong way for God’s children!

Digressive means downward movement.  In Romans 1:18-32, Paul delineates and describes those who, “though they knew God, did not honor Him as God, or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish hearts were darkened, professing to be wise, they became fools…”  As a result of this rejection of what they knew and could plainly see of God, they digressed away from Him into degradation, depravity and ultimately, destruction.  Surely, this is not the way to move!

We can “gress” (move) out of ourselves and into Christ; we can come together as Christians to worship God and encourage one another; and we can grow and move forward toward heaven; or, we can continue in violent, backward, and downward movements toward hell.  We get to pick the direction we move, but we can’t stay still.  Choose wisely!

(Philip C. Strong; Southport Church of Christ; 7202 Madison Ave, Indianapolis, IN 46227; online at southportcofc.org; email to mrpcstrong@hotmail.com)




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