One of the biggest mistakes you can make in reading, learning, researching and using Scripture is to take a verse out of context, especially if you’re using it to prove a point or win an argument/discussion about faith.
To know that you truly understand a Biblical verse, you must have 20/20 vision. That means — read the last 20 verses that appear before the verse and the next 20 after the verse. I guarantee that within that group of verses you should get a better idea of what the verse actually means and to what it’s referring.
You see, what you read in a lone verse may “seem” as if it has a particular meaning; however, it could be referring to a specific situation, for a specific people, and within for a specific timeframe. A lot of St. Paul’s writings were like this, since most are letters to the Churches he founded. Now, that doesn’t mean the verse doesn’t apply to us today, but it does mean that you have to understand more about the meaning of the writing to truly understand the verse.
Practice 20/20 vision, and you can’t go wrong!
The One Exception
Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. The one exception to the 20/20 vision practice is what I call the “Shotgun Bible Verse”. Though I know of several Catholics who use this, including a priest, it’s really a Protestant thing. If you are in need of guidance, sit down with your Bible and pray for assistance from the Lord. Ask that the Holy Spirit guide your hands and finger — pray sincerely. Then, ask the question to what you most need an answer. Next, take your closed Bible in both your hands, close your eyes, allow your hands to feel the Bible pages, and open it at random (leaving your eyes closed). (This works best at a table or desk.) Finally, still with your eyes closed, run your finger down one of the pages, stopping when it “feels” right. Open your eyes and read the verse. Then, ask for clarification (if you need it), and repeat the process. Then, do it one last time for confirmation to ensure accuracy. If you are getting something foreign to the question and/or inappropriate, then you cannot act on the information.
I have used this for a lot of important decisions in my life.
It really works!
by Patricia Hawke
Copyright 2008, Patricia Hawke