Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.
2 Timothy 2:15
How selfless are you when you study scripture? Do you walk into a devotional time with a humility that allows scripture to speak for itself or do you hunt and peck through the Bible, looking for the answers that will support your view?
In modern times we have been given an awesome, but sometimes dangerous, blessing of being able to readily access scripture. There are study Bibles that come with a concordance built in; others offer a devotional aspect to the scriptures we read; and some provide side-by-side comparisons across various translations. You can even carry it around with you on your phone.
With this blessing comes immense responsibility, though. The Bible can be used to prove almost anything you set your mind to. Scripture-by-scripture it can be picked apart, making things look like they support whatever point it is that being made. This is where the danger lies.
As a writer, I often start my post thinking of a specific topic. Typically, something happens which brings a subject to the forefront of my mind and then I study to find further proof of what I am writing about. Risky. I have to be incredibly careful to let the scripture speak and not my opinion.
I fear our society has fallen victim to the idea that you can follow a line of logically ordered scripture and prove something that very much goes against the Word. We are self-serving culture that likes to be “right” which can come at the risk of convincing people the correctness of something that goes entirely against God’s commands.
Studying God’s word requires a transparent approach. Sometimes, at least for me, there is a subtle arrogance that seeps in for those of us who have grown up listening to the word of God. Most passages come with a sense of knowing where they came from and where they are headed; a sense of what point is the author getting at. Sometimes, I want to jump straight to what comes to mind.
For example, today, I knew this was the subject I wanted to write about. Quickly, what came to mind is Revelations 22:18-19 because I knew it referred to taking from and adding to the Word so I pull it up:
I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll. And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll.
My thoughts on the scriptures to reference is entirely wrong. The passage applies to Revelations. Not to our modern day society and the scriptures we have been blessed with. Don’t mistake me, I still think it is wrong add to or take away from the Word of God (See Proverbs 30:5-6 and Deuteronomy 4:2), but what had popped in my head for today’s post did not carry the meaning I was thinking.
When we study God’s word, we have to lay our pride and opinions at the door. There is no room for either. The Bible is the supreme authority and there is nothing our human minds can do to add to that. God has spoken. We have to respect that and learn from the scriptures for what they say, not what we want them to.
We have been given a wonderful privilege in having the scriptures at our fingertips. Are you using it responsibly? Are you proving your point or God’s point? Are you speaking or is he? My hope is that the next time you open your Bible, you read it for what it says, not what you want it to.
As always, if you have questions, ideas, or want to study further, I am available at TheRefreshingWell@gmail.com.