May 23, 2009

Accomplish or Achieve

I woke up in the middle of the night and two words popped into my head, accomplish and achieve. That was it before I feel back to sleep, but I remembered them in the morning. I looked up both and got pretty similar results, pretty much the same definition. So I looked in a NASB concordance and saw both words appear in the NASB, not all that frequently, but they appear, accomplish more than achieve. Both they both appear in two books, Job and James. Ah, here was something to look at, how the same author used it differently:

21"His sons achieve honor, but he does not know it; Or they become insignificant, but he does not perceive it.
Job 14:21
6"If you have sinned, what do you accomplish against Him? And if your transgressions are many, what do you do to Him?
Job 35:6
20for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.
James 1:20
16Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.
James 5:16

Not sure there was anything here as I looked at it, but I noticed something, and maybe it is only me. Achieve seems to be a word used with winning, with reward, with recognition. Accomplish seems to be used with getting something completed, ending a task.

Achieve seems to be used by both authors when dealing with reaching up to the attributes of God, honor and righteousness, with divine activities. Accomplish seems to be used by both authors to describe man dealing with his sin and sinfulness, with human activities. Achieving is reaching up to God's level, and it is God's accomplishment not ours. Accomplishing is moving under our own power to reach and deal with what we can. I can achieve my salvation through the grace of God and the death of Christ only, but I can accomplish sin on my own. I can accomplish much in my life, but I achieve only what God would have me.

"To accomplish is human, to achieve divine" A. Coticchio May 2009

I know I should check out the other uses of these words in other passages of Scripture to see if this thesis holds up. I will not. I like this thought and am stopping here. That two different authors over a thousand years apart nuanced similar meaning words in the same way shows me that God's hand is in Scripture. That is a cool thought to mine out of a couple of words tha popped into my head in the middle of the night.

And that is enough for me today.