Get It Right

I had a routine medical appointment, and because it was scheduled in the morning, I decided to eat breakfast at a fast food restaurant afterward and make out my shopping list for my eventual grocery trip. I’m thankful that many such places now serve oatmeal, and I was enjoying a maple-nut variety with a nice cup of tea, reviewing my coupons and expected purchases. Within minutes, behind me and to my right sat two military officers. I began to hear them converse; at first just the mumble of voices was perceptible, but then I was actually hearing the words of one reading off to the other from something that in my furtive glance I could not detect. “It must be text messages from his cell phone,” I gathered. He was sharing rather seriously, “Are you wearing a white shirt?” Do you have anywhere important to be?” “Are you in [McFoodle’s] right now?” At this point I was thinking, “Doesn’t he know that I can hear what he’s saying?” I actually had the thought that he might be sharing communications from some sort of covert emissary who he was soon to meet or who might be secretly watching him at the moment.
It was then that I glanced down. Under my oatmeal, tea bag and napkin was a tray liner that posed an array of questions in a maze-like pattern leading one to contemplate whether he should be enjoying the sandwich offering of the month. Yes, it asked what color tee I was wearing, if I had anywhere important to be, and if I presently happened to be in [McFoodle’s]. I chuckled. I tend to have an uncomplicated mind, and I don’t always get advertising that doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the promoted product. But, I was really laughing at myself for having misinterpreted someone’s reading of a fast food paper mat.
This amusing incident led me to wonder how often I misunderstand something I see, hear, read or experience. Though this particular mistake was innocuous, do I misinterpret words or actions that cause harm to someone, including myself? If I’m being honest, I know I have made such mistakes, things for which I’ve asked the Lord for forgiveness. What about God’s Word? Have I read a verse or passage and made an interpretation that God did not intend? Have I used God’s Word for my own benefit or to the detriment of others? What are the consequences of careless handling of God’s precious message to us?
God speaks to these things. 2 Timothy 2:15 reads, “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.” Proverbs 30:5-6 and 8 says, ”Every Word of God is flawless; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him. Do not add to His words, or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar… Keep falsehood and lies far from me.” Galatians 1:6-8, “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the One who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel – which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!”
Obviously, God views the handling of His Word as a serious matter. We need to do the same. When we read and study its words and passages, it behooves us to ask God to help us to understand it well and apply it correctly to our lives. An appropriate verse to pray to God when engaged in reading the Bible is Psalm 119:18, “Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.” We need to remember that, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,” (2 Timothy 3:16) so that we do not just pick and choose what suits our lifestyle or whim. We must be willing to read the Bible with the utmost care and truly seek God to reveal His truth to us and use it in our lives for our ultimate good and His glory.
From now on, I think I’ll try to fully assess a situation (including checking the fast food tray liner) before I let faulty interpretation and my imagination take my mind in an errant direction. Even more importantly, I pray that I will always handle God’s Word correctly and use it to bring truth and light to the people and situations I encounter. May I be able to say, “Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the Word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.” 2 Corinthians 4:1-2
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