It seems daily I see well meaning Christians tear someone down with scripture in hand claiming to be doing so out of love. Funny, I don’t remember Jesus doing this. Sure he corrected people, but the people he corrected knew that he had done so out of love.
We need to stop misusing scripture and start using it for what God intended. First we will start with 3 ways we misuse scripture.
How We Misuse Scripture
Tear People Down
Often we like to condemn and then tack on, well that was out of love, thinking that somehow makes it right. Too many Christians hide behind the fact that what they are saying is true. Listen, you can say something true (something that is in the Bible) and be totally wrong in how you say it. Your words might be true but the way you say it makes it wrong.
I think that’s why Paul said: If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:1-3
Without love you cannot correct someone. Without love our corrections come off as condemnation. Without love truth is a tough pill to swallow.
I have found in my life when I have sin that is not dealt with it makes others’ sins magnify in my eyes. Before I can lovingly correct someone else I need to repent of my own sin.
Correct the World’s Behaviors
Often we use scripture to point out flaws in the world’s behaviors. We offer the grace-filled passages in the Bible to the people in the Church while pointing to condemnation for the world. It should be flipped, at least slightly. We should be offering grace to the world and lovingly correcting the church.
Let’s look at what Jesus said: For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. John 3:17
Jesus didn’t come into the world to condemn everyone but to save them. We often go into the world condemning everyone, the opposite of what Jesus did. We certainly cannot forget about telling the truth of the Gospel to the world, that is we are all sinners. But what I am saying is we often use scripture to show the world they are sinners and stop there. We need to tell them the good news that we are loved, saved, and accepted despite our sin.
We excuse the sins of the church and condemn the sins of the world. We offer only truth to the world and only grace to the church.We should be going out of our way to tell the world about Jesus who desperately loves them. And we should be reminding the Church of the sacrifice Jesus made to set us free from our past and to not go back to it.
Read the Bible Out of Context
I see so many people pull one verse out of the Bible and use it to support their point. You have to look at the verse in context of what is being said around it. When we do this we get a faulty view of what is actually being said.
Let me give you an example: For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them. Matthew 18:20 I’ve heard this quoted many times saying that when we gather as a church God is with us when 2 or more are gathered. That’s not what the verse is saying. You need to read the surrounding context (Matthew 18:15-20). Jesus is actually telling us how to properly deal with Church discipline. It’s also rather ridiculous to think that God is only with us when two or more are gathered, that doesn’t line up with what scripture says elsewhere.
We cannot simply read one verse and pull our conclusion from that. Many people have been hurt and gotten a false sense of what scripture says from doing this. We need to read each verse in context of the others surrounding it.
What To Do
Remind Yourself of God’s Truths
Scripture reminds us of God’s promises to us. When days get long and life gets tough we need scripture to remind us that we are loved and God is with us.
You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. Deuteronomy 11:18
The Israelites took this seriously. Everywhere they went they were reminded of God’s promises. In our lives we need to make sure we are continually reminded of God’s truths. Write it down, memorize, quote it back to yourself, don’t let yourself forget it.
Correct Your Brothers/Sisters in Christ
This one isn’t popular today. We live by that motto that you live your life, and I’ll live mine. But following Jesus wasn’t meant to be done alone. A large reason why is that community helps keep us on the right path. We need to be using scripture to lovingly correct our brothers and sisters.
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17
Paul shows us here that scripture is useful for correcting, but he also gives us a hint why. He says so that we may be equipped for every good work. In other words, if we don’t correct each other we will be ill-equipped.
Solomon says it this way: Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy. Proverbs 27:6 Wounds from a friend heal and we become stronger. Using scripture to correct will help edify the body of Christ.
Show Love to the World
The Bible as a whole is the story of God redeeming his people who rebelled against him. At it’s core it’s good news for us. We who had no hope because of our sin now have hope because of his sacrifice. We need to go tell that story to the world. The world desperately needs to know that there is hope for them. They need to know that they are loved. They need to know about the God who wants to save them.
We each need to look at our lives and stop using scripture to tear people down and start using it to build people up.
For more on how to read the Bible: How to Read the Bible (better)