1 Peter 2:2 (NKJV)
as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby
I met a man recently at a coffee shop who was very forward about his faith. Although I didn’t start the conversation, I listened as he reached out to me about his ideas about God. I didn’t argue with him, though scripturally he was very wrong. (Sometimes you just know better.) He was very nice and had the appearance of loving the Lord, yet something was just not right. Also, recently I had a great conversation with a young man who is learning to establish his faith. He asked a lot of questions and even gave his opinion. A very pleasant conversation, in this instance I did engage him, as he was curious of my stance on some things.
These were two very different interactions that I have had countless times. As you get older, walking out your salvation, you will surely learn the scripture that reads, “there is nothing new under the sun.” Though the conversations were very different, there was a common theme in both of them: pride. It was subtle at first. Neither one of these people were blatantly prideful. Both carried themselves in a sweet and even seemingly humble manner. Both seemed well studied, and in search of truth, but there was a commonality in their error, one that I dare say we all succumb to at some point or another. That commonality is in the phrase, “I think”. In either conversation I heard the words “I think” or “I interpret” many, many times, so much so, that it was something the Lord really drew my attention to and had me reflect on my own words with. We live in the greatest country the world has ever known. One thing though that can at times work against us is that we so easily have an opinion on absolutely everything. This is great when you are at Home Depot picking paint colors, but not so much if you are in a relentless search for truth. Sometimes our freedom to express ourselves as individuals can muddy the waters when truth is concerned.
I love what Jesus said in John 17:17, “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.”
God’s truth is not subjective and it is not up for debate. He didn’t give us His Word, call it His Word (despite what the man in my first example said), call it absolute truth, only to have us look at it and decide that we can make up what it means. When we interpret the scripture, we add our thoughts to it, and therefore exhibit the biggest form of pride there is! It’s so subtle it’s almost undetectable! I may have never seen it had the Spirit not pointed it out.
The key here is understanding what interpretation means. If you were speaking a language I hadn’t learned, I would need interpretation. If one was speaking things too lofty for you to understand, you would need an interpretation. However, if I decide to give you directions to my house, in a language we both know, there is no interpretation, only obedience, if you want to ever get there.
The Word of God is really an instruction manual for God’s people. He gave it to us in a way that is not hard to understand if we look at it correctly. Here’s the problem. So often people filter scripture through things such as their experience, their own culture, or even their desires. When you fail to filter instruction through the intent of the author, you will always come up with a varied idea of their intent, one that is as individual as the individual.
I’m not saying that no part of scripture is complex. It certainly is! However, a freshman in high school doesn’t start off in college level math classes. You learn the basics, through instruction, and progress as your capacity to learn grows. The problem is, so often we have people who teach scripture who have never learned scripture, and therefore people get confused.
Now, I am not saying in any of this that I know it all. I certainty do not. The key is that I’m willing to learn and I’m willing to have my mind changed if I can be shown through scripture that I am wrong. I told my wife recently, “We have to stop saying I think.” When we do we are setting ourselves up for error. Even when Jesus, the Word in the flesh, answered people or the devil He only said, “It is written.” Not once in all of scripture is He recorded saying, “I think.” If anyone had right to that statement He certainly did!
So my hope is this, that you take away a desire to not have opinion of God’s Word but a desire to know God’s Word. If you become a person who desires to know, God will accommodate you. Save your opinion for when you paint your house.