As a writer, and former English teacher, context is important. I was always taught to be sure I consider "the words around" a statement, and the actions of the speaker, to ensure I grasp the correct meaning.
"I'm sorry" can mean the exact opposite of those words' dictionary definitions if said in a certain tone, or in a certain situation.
Of course, one of the most dangerous places to do this is in God's Word. One verse pulled from just about any book of the Bible (but perhaps especially Ecclesiastes!!) can easily be used to profess something God was not in any way saying or advocating.
But it doesn't stop folks from doing it. And it can do some serious damage to a new believer, a seeker, and/or the cause of Christ.
But guess what? I'm gonna do it anyway. (don't run away screaming, please - gimme a minute or so, okay?)My post today was to be about selfishness (mostly mine), but when I was searching on Bible Gateway for a verse, one jumped out at me and I HAD to grab it and write about it. Because it's a profound truth. Because it's the reminder I needed to deal with my selfishness. Because it helped me get my focus back where it needed to be.
You see, my selfishness was caused by my focus. It had been a long, busy week. I felt like a headless chicken. And there was somewhere else I wished I could have been - which wasn't helping. I just wanted everything to go smoothly, and easily, and wonderfully.
I was looking around at my circumstances and whining that they weren't ideal for me. And it was making me grumpy.
All I really needed to do was stop by Bible Gateway, do a search, and come up with Matthew 17:8. And there was my answer.
When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus.That's what I need to do. Look up. Nothing up there but Jesus, right? Keep my eyes off my circumstances and focus on Him, and the selfishness will be gone. :)
Now that MAY be true - (and, in fact, it likely is) but you do NOT build a philosophy or worldview from ten words pulled from the middle of some chapter. What if the verse that popped up had been Numbers 25:17? Or Exodus 21:23-25? Or 1 Timothy 5:23? (yeah- go look 'em up)
So, be careful where you get your lessons - watch context, and, most importantly, the Spirit's guiding of you. His Word is powerful - just be sure you're paying attention.
So, who looked up Matthew 17:8 and checked the context? Did any of you know where it was from without looking it up? Do you sometimes find yourself taking verses out of context?
We're chatting about this here, and at Living By Grace on Facebook. Hope you'll join the discussion!
Traveling Rough Roads With God's Strength