22 But be sure you live out the message and do not merely listen to it and so deceive yourselves. 23 For if someone merely listens to the message and does not live it out, he is like someone who gazes at his own face in a mirror. 24 For he gazes at himself and then goes out and immediately forgets what sort of person he was. 25 But the one who peers into the perfect law of liberty and fixes his attention there, and does not become a forgetful listener but one who lives it out—he will be blessed in what he does. James 1:22-25 (NET)
I was raised in a community of Bible-believing Christians, and I was expected to be a Bible-believing Christian. I have a Biblical studies degree from Barclay College, just one example of how my whole life has been in the church and steeped in Scripture. One thing I’ve noticed is that people who view Scripture as authoritative are tempted to use Scripture to win arguments. There’s nothing wrong with reverence for the Bible. But weaponizing the Bible—that’s another story.
The problem with using Scripture to make an argument is that in doing so, we tend to look for proof texts to support our opinions about God and about what is or isn’t moral. That’s not what Scripture is for. Scripture challenges us, if we let it, when we engage it. Faith isn’t about winning arguments. Faith makes room for Jesus to work.
Consider this. Have you ever studied Scripture in order to find a way to condemn your neighbor? Turn that practice around. Read a little farther. Soften your heart, and let the Bible challenge your own thoughts, your own attitudes, your own behavior.
Respecting the authority of Scripture means respecting its ability to speak into our lives. Let the Bible challenge your ideas and your self-righteousness. Take time to listen.
Hymn: Trust and Obey
Prayer suggestion: God, help me to hear your message for me in Scripture, and help me to obey it.
Published in Fall 2018 edition of Fruit of the Vine