Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:
“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
and they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”
Matthew 4 : 5 – 6
I had to look up what this verse is a reference to, it turns out it comes from Psalm 91 verses 11 and 12. The fact that I had to look it up has led me to the uncomfortable conclusion that the Devil knows the bible better than I do!
The Bible is a powerful book. As Christians we give it the authority to speak into our lives, guide our decision making and shape how we understand the world. It’s a power that can be used to transform us into kinder, more loving people. But it’s also a power that can be misused. People can use Bible verses, usually out of context, to mislead and manipulate us. Throughout history the Bible has been co-opted to incite hatred, uphold unjust institutions and make people feel ashamed of who they are. Clobber verses have been twisted and used as weapons against people. It’s such a departure from what the Bible is meant for.
One of the marks of a mature faith is discernment, the ability to tease out the truth from unclear situations. And we need to use our discernment when reading the Bible. When we hear a verse quoted to us we need examine it and ask questions. What does the rest of the passage say? Which book is it from, who wrote it and what is the genre? And most importantly, how does this verse fit into the bigger picture of the Bible, the story of a loving God calling us to be his people. With those kinds of questions we can discern whether someone is trying to use scripture to mislead us, or whether they are genuinely seeking to understand God’s word better.
Prayer: Lord give me eyes to read your word wisely. Help me to see clearly your Gospel of Love woven throughout the Bible.
Action: Don’t just take my word for it. Read our passage again, check what the rest of the chapter says, and see if you agree with me. I haven’t been declared infallible yet so don’t take my words as gospel, see you yourself.