During my time in God’s word, I’ve noticed more recently that scriptures which I have read countless times have ministered to me like never before. This reminded me of the constant need to approach God’s word with humility, and with our hearts open wide for God to reveal what He wants to us. We should never come with an approach of ‘I know it all’ and ‘I’ve heard it all’. We must remain open and teachable, even before scriptures that we may have read hundreds of times.
I have also considered establishing a few guidelines for myself when discussing scriptures online and during bible study. I love sharing how God’s word has spoken to me via social media, in discussions and of course through my written Bible devotionals. Though, I recognise that my interpretation or exegesis of scripture if you will, is often not the only reasonable interpretation.
Of course, there are many scriptures which are very clear at face-value and require none or very little interpretation to fully understand. However, when a passage of scripture is left open to interpretation, I have made it a point to never shut a person down, or quickly assume that they are a ‘false teacher’ if their interpretation of scripture differs from mine. Instead, my approach is to listen, consider their viewpoint in context, gracefully ask ‘have you considered this view’? And gently offer correction if needed.
Unfortunately, I have witnessed and experienced people stirring up unnecessary offence because instead of being defenders of God’s word, they become defenders of their own interpretation of God’s word and we totally miss the mark when we do this. When we allow ourselves to be offended by minor differences in our exegesis of scripture, we quite literally deny the fact that God’s word is ALIVE and active (Hebrews 4:12). When something is ‘alive’ it is responsive. God’s word literally responds to the present condition of our soul (emotions) and spirit. God’s word judges the thoughts and intentions of our heart at any given time and of course when reading any scripture, our very present thoughts and intentions will differ from person to person because we are different and that is okay!
We often read scripture through the lens of our experience, our-world view and overall understanding of God’s word and it’s purpose, whether great or limited. Similarly, God’s word, being alive, will minister right into your present, and it is so important that you record the moments in which the Holy Spirit teaches you a new thing through scripture (John 14:26).
With that being said, we must never confuse written devotionals, bible commentaries, or oral interpretations with God’s actual word. Written devotionals are not God’s word and should never be treated as such, neither are commentaries, or oral interpretations. Nevertheless, these mediums do have a weighty responsibility in providing an exegesis of the scriptures, however, they are in no way to be considered a substitute for God’s word. Hence, devotionals, commentaries and oral biblical messages are often preceded by scripture. As Spurgeon said, ‘visit many books, but believe in the Bible’.
The bottom line is, we have to lay down our expectation of what we think a passage of scripture means based on our world-view and we must ask God for His heart, mind and eyes to allow us to see what it is He wants to say to us through His word. Moreover, if you find that an interpretation doesn’t sit well with you, go beyond your ‘feelings’ and take that interpretation before God and His word. God’s word is alive, unchanging and true.
I’ll end this post with something that brother Ayokunu Oduniyi shared on facebook last week for you to ponder on: ‘one of the issues of our generation, is that we try so hard to find something wrong about anything (to come across deep) and lack the ability to bless, encourage or celebrate’. #LetThatSinkIn