I know one of my pursuits in 2018 needs to be pressing more deeply into the Word of God. Last year, I had a repeated sense of conviction by the Holy Spirit that I needed to be more than just a dabbler in the Word. I need to become more of a student in that area.
During my devotional time, I often read short devotions that may have a scripture or two that relate to the theme of the day’s reflection. While this is certainly a great way to read and apply the Word of God, it is often only a snapshot of what may be going on in a particular book of the Bible.
Sometimes, not knowing the broader context of what I am reading diminishes the level of understanding and spiritual nourishment I can gain from reading individual verses. I want as much wisdom and blessing as I can get from the Bible.
If I am superficial in my study of the Word, I will ultimately be superficial in my knowledge. I want to be well-versed in the Word of God so that I can encourage, instruct, train, and correct my children. Besides this, I want to be ready with sound wisdom and encouragement to share with those around me.
Paul exhorts Timothy to this same effect when he writes:
“Carefully study to present thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.”
-2 Timothy 2:15
In this passage, Paul is encouraging Timothy to be well-studied in order to understand the scriptures and recognize when they are being misrepresented. Only through diligent, earnest study of the Word is this possible. To know the truth, we must study the truth.
I think of times I hear people cite scripture and it is either being shared out of context or fails to include everything related to the verse. For example, people often quote “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone” when talking about judging others. Certainly this is a truth that Jesus spoke in the case of the woman caught in adultery in John 8. However, it is only part of Jesus’ intended message.
Unfortunately, I have more than once heard people reference this scripture as a way of justifying their own sin or the sin of others. They also use it to admonish people for being judgmental. But they’ve missed the real point of this vignette, which is God’s grace and mercy and the repentance that should result from receiving it.
Jesus speaks gently to the woman after her accusers leave, telling her:
“Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”
– John 8:11
Yes, Jesus admonishes those who judge the woman. However, He wants more for her than just to be free from their accusations. He wants her to be whole and find freedom from her sin through His grace.
This is one example of how not knowing the context of the whole situation could cause someone to misquote and misrepresent scripture, either intentionally or unintentionally. Only by studying the bible more closely can we avoid such mistakes.
Lord, give me a desire to study Your Word so that I can honor you in the way I handle it and share it with others. I want to be well-versed in Your truth and honor You by doing so. Thank you for your precious Word. AMEN.