Stephanie Rische

Stubbing My Toe on Grace

Why God Loves Adverbs December 4, 2012

Filed under: 1 Corinthians — Stephanie Rische @ 1:12 pm
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I have a confession to make that I fear will confirm any lingering suspicions about my nerdiness (in case my musings about prepositions didn’t seal it for you): I secretly enjoy the parts of speech. You know—nouns, verbs, predicate adjectives, and the like. (I have a fetish for sentence diagramming too, but that’s a neurosis for another day.)


So when I came across this proverb from the Puritans, I was pretty delighted: “God loveth adverbs.” Of course he does! was my immediate thought. He revealed himself as the Word, after all. No doubt we’ll talk about the finer parts of grammar in heaven—maybe we’ll even have sentence-parsing workshops behind the pearly gates.


But when I got past the grammatical bent of the proverb, I found it downright convicting. If the Puritans were right, God doesn’t just care about what we do, but how we do it.


Here’s how Paul put it:

My dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.

—1 Corinthians 15:58


It strikes me that in some ways the verb part isn’t as hard to pull off as the adverb. It’s not all that impressive to do the right thing…but to do it with the right heart, the right attitude? This is a high standard we’re called to in 1 Corinthians—not just to work for the Lord, but to always work enthusiastically.


On a practical level, I wonder what that would look like in my life. It’s one thing to make dinner for husband, but am I doing so enthusiastically(i.e., happy to serve, not keeping track of whose “turn” it is)? It’s one thing to give money when the offering plate goes by, but am I doing so enthusiastically (i.e., out of joy, not obligation)? It’s one thing to forgive my neighbors for their persistently yipping dog, but am I doing so enthusiastically (i.e., not holding a silent grudge or fantasizing about a canine larynx removal)?


It’s not enough to do the verbs. I need to do them with all the punch of a good adverb. Enthusiastically.




I’ve taken the challenge of reading the Bible chronologically this year and tracing the thread of grace through it. These musings are prompted by my reading. I’d love to have you join me: One Year Bible reading plan.