"Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth" 2 Timothy 2:15.
To say this is a popular scripture among Christians would be an understatement. To say it is one of the most ignored scriptures would just be stating the obvious! As a Christian, I take no pleasure in saying that most believers do not care about a proper interpretation of Scriptures. I was talking with someone recently about this very issue, obviously miffed about the gross misuse of Biblical text by both the Clergy and the laity. His response was as shocking as it was saddening. He simply shrugged off my frustrations, claiming that as long as it brings hope, any interpretation was just fine.
Well, wrong hopeful interpretations are just as wrong as giving plastic food to a hungry blind beggar. The truth is Christians are called to handle the word of God correctly. We are instructed to rightly divide the word of truth. To study and interpret the Bible correctly, we need to keep a few things in mind:
- The Bible was written for you, it was not written to you. This may sound confusing and contradictory at first, but if you take a look at every book of the Bible, you'd notice they were written for particular reasons or to a particular set of people. To understand the Bible therefore, we need to understand the context in which and to which they were written. For example, in 1 Corinthians 11, Paul talked about respect in the place of prayers. He instructed women to have their heads covered and men not to. This passage has confused so many Christians. Legalistic Christians have made a law out of it, unbelievers perceive Paul to be a confused chauvinist and several others have no way of making sense of it. When we remember that 1 Corinthians was written to the Corinthians and not to us, we quickly realize that there will be some cultural references that will make total sense to them that may just seem odd to us. When we realize that 1 Corinthians was written for us, we understand that the principle behind the culture is as relevant to us as it was to them. The principle Paul was teaching about was that of honoring the spiritual authority over you in the place of prayer. The way this principle was practiced in Corinth was by men having low cropped hair and women having covered heads. How that principle is expressed in your culture today may be different. Remember, the principle is as important for us today as it was for them.
- The Bible exists to play some very specific roles. In 2 Timothy 3:16, Paul writes that "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness." It is important to keep these in mind when studying scriptures. The Bible is not a magic book containing tons of spells that one can just blurt out to get things done. The Bible is not a magic book with powers to repel evil if placed under the pillow at night. When the Bible calls God's word the sword of the spirit, it did not mean that your leather bound KJV was a weapon of spiritual destruction! Reading the Bible just to claim promises is a gross misuse, and honestly does no good. It also doesn't help to just read the Bible to generate prayer points or to get the required knowledge to win an argument. When we approach the Bible, we should do so ready to learn, be rebuked, be corrected and be trained in righteousness!