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Hebrew Thinking or Greek Thinking?

December 1, 2011
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Often when I speak with groups, I hold up a water bottle and ask them to describe it. Most groups will say: It’s about 6 inches (15 cm) tall, clear with a blue cap, etc. They are describing the way the bottle looks. This is typical of Greek thinking, which is interested in form. However, those with a Hebrew perspective would be more likely to describe its function or purpose. Their answers would be that it is a container for holding water.

Hebrew thinking is God-centered and is always monotheistic: “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one” (Deut. 6:4). God is at the center of everything in life for a Hebrew thinker. I recently asked an Orthodox Jewish friend what was the most important thing in life, and the immediate answer was “God.” The Greeks, on the other hand, served a pantheon of gods and saw man as the center of life. We see this in our modern societies. Humanism is a philosophy that takes this idea to a higher plain, eliminating the need for God or religion. Even as we sing worship songs in our churches, often affirmation songs are more about what God does for us (man-centered) rather than worshiping God for who He is (God-centered).

The Greeks were very interested in outward beauty, hedonism (the pursuit of pleasure), nudity, and sexuality. How like our world today! In contrast, Cheryl Hauer, a BFP senior team member, describes the Hebrew way of thinking well: “The Hebrew…placed no more emphasis on the outer man than on the inner man. Spirituality, which expressed itself in a lively relationship with God and community, was the heart of Jewish worship. The human body was appreciated and cared for as a gift from the Lord. It was treated with respect and modesty as the vehicle through which the worship of God was performed.”

Education for the sake of knowledge is also a Greek concept. Hebrew thinking highly values education as a tool to enable us to serve God and community more effectively.

Even how we view success reveals whether we are more influenced by Greek or Hebrew thinking. To Greek thinkers, worldly success is defined by external values such as beauty, brawn, higher education, money, and fame. They ask the question, “How will this benefit me? “ However, Hebrew thinkers seek after success God’s way, put God first, and understand that spiritual growth will impact every area of life. They are interested in living life by God’s rules, understanding that this is true success and ask the question, “Have I done the will of the Father? Have I cleaved to my Beloved?”

If we think about the heroes modern society chooses, we will get further insight. If your heroes are models, actors, or sports figures, then you are probably looking at life with a Greek mind-set. If however, your heroes are Moses, Jesus (Yeshua), or even someone who is impacting his community through godly lifestyle and action, then you are most likely thinking with a Hebraic mind-set.

As believers, we need to conform to God’s way of thinking, which permeates the Bible. Let’s refocus our minds and read the Bible through Hebraic eyeglasses and determine that God will be central in our lives.

Source: By Rebecca J. Brimmer, International President and CEO

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