I had today’s essay all planned. I wanted to demonstrate how professing Christians misuse a certain verse fragment to justify unbiblical approaches to prayer. I confidently typed out my introductory paragraphs, carefully setting the stage before I quoted the verse in context. I knew I was about to blow up arguments for using that particular verse as a defense for their practices.
A little too smugly for my own good, I put the passage up on my computer so I could copy and paste it into my blog post. I started reading from the beginning of the chapter. Oh my! I scurried into our bedroom, where John is lying down, and asked him to read the chapter. “Were we wrong?” I asked him.
We discussed the passage, and realized that we’d been interpreting it based on its immediate context, but not the context of the entire chapter. While we saw that it still doesn’t support contemplative prayer, neither does it contradict such practices as sharply as we had believed it did. As a matter of fact, we could understand how people would misapply it as a method of prayer.
I anticipate writing about the misapplication of the verse sometime in the future, but not until I study it more thoroughly. Obviously, I still don’t understand it as well as I thought I did. At least not in relation to prayer methodology. And quoting it out of context for the purpose of showing how others quote it out of context smacks of hypocrisy. The end never justifies the means.
This morning I read through several chapters of Proverbs. I kept running into verses about the importance of integrity. Let me quote just one of them:
Whoever walks in integrity will be delivered,
but he who is crooked in his ways will suddenly fall. ~~Proverbs 28:18 (ESV)
Had I proceeded with my planned blog post, using only the immediate context of the verse in question to substantiate my point, someone would have discovered my dishonesty. Quite appropriately, they would have publicly exposed me. I’m aware, of course, that everybody makes innocent mistakes, but in this particular case I would have knowingly misrepresented Scripture. As a result, I would have totally undermined my entire blog. Even worse, I would have dishonored the Lord Jesus Christ.
I set out to provide my readers with a lesson in Bible context. Instead the Lord gave me a much more profound lesson. Sisters, even when we stand against error, we have the responsibility to handle God’s Word properly and with reverence.