Scripture for the Day: You have been bought with a price…
I Corinthians 7:23a
The subject of “stewardship” comes up off and on in church, frequently with regard to how much money a member ought to give. But stewardship can be the category under which all of our resources come under scrutiny. There is no doubt that as redeemed people, we are not our own. From the moment we trust Christ as Savior, our decisions are made in the light of whose we are. When the Apostle Paul was writing to the Corinthians in chapter 7, he believed that Jesus was coming back in his lifetime, so he counseled people to remain in whatever state they were: if married, remain so, but if single, they were advised to remain single. It is generally true that single people are freer than married ones to serve the Lord wholeheartedly simply from the standpoint of time to give. But if everyone had taken this counsel as a doctrine for all time and all people, we obviously wouldn’t be here to talk about it!
So we are back to the issue behind the issue. How do we look at a sentence from the Scriptures and know how to follow it, how to teach it? This is one more example of why it is so vital to examine the Scriptures wisely. Generally, we look at any literature for the plain meaning first. Then, we look around before and after to understand the general context. Not only what are the words but what was happening to instigate the words? Paul was not dealing with money but the stewardship of our bodies and even our very lives.
Eugene Peterson, the translator of The Message, a modern paraphrase of the Bible, said it this way. “Use your head and use your heart.” That’s a pretty good rule, I think.
Scripture for the Day: Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious. I Peter 2:1
I participated in a group discussion among believers recently who were talking about praying for healing. They were probably referring to verses such as James 5:15 where “the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up.”
There seemed to be at least three groups of people and opinions there. The first one was represented by a woman who said that while she knew that God heals sometimes, she had accepted the tension that not everyone who is prayed for gets healed. She added some conjecture that maybe God had something to teach someone, and I think she was actually remembering something from her own past. The second viewpoint was by a man passionate to obey God who wondered whether the first opinion was “Biblical.” He seemed to suggest that when our prayers are not answered, it’s our fault. We just don’t have enough faith.
The third group of people were absent. I reminded the folks that I knew of people who were paralyzed or amputees, and I wondered how they would feel at such a discussion. My question is, why are people still having this anguished debate? Maybe it’s because the real problem is not the question of who does and does not get healed, but the issue of how to interpret the Scriptures. This is one issue where great confusion and even pain is caused because of this misunderstanding. It is careless, even dangerous, to take one sentence from the Bible and create a doctrine from it.
The “pure milk of the Word” deserves more careful interpretation, don’t you think?
Scripture for the Day: James 1:26, 27
The bit of wisdom I’ve got insofar as building a blog is concerned (that is, a following—I already have the blog) – is to support others who are writing about things I love and believe in. So in pursuit of blogs I can support, I typed in the name of an author I have enjoyed, Dallas Willard. I seemed to remember a website. When I followed a link, however, this man’s work was being denigrated and his general reputation attacked.
The trouble is, this was not a political rant; it was one Christian attacking another one. As I followed this woman’s posts, I found more vituperation concerning another issue I care about—the role of women in the church. I woke up this morning wondering what to do. I mean, what is the Christian thing to do? I found myself in the book of James, where this author did in fact have some advice. He said to bridle our tongues—keep them under control, in other words, for words are powerful and can cause great damage. Anyone can benefit from that advice. Further, he spoke of “Pure and undefiled religion.” What is it? Care for orphans and widows; in other words, be on the lookout for how we can be kind and helpful. And what else? “Keep yourself unspotted from the world.” Clean up your act, in modern language.
This doesn’t tell me everything I want to know but it helped me get through today. There’s someone in the hospital I need to visit.