I’m in Las Vegas for a trade show with my company, and there are so many people here. I don’t even know how to count them all. I stopped off in the bathroom yesterday after lunch, and as I was washing my hands, one of the stall doors behind me opened up. And a man appeared.
A man. In the women’s restroom.
Or, wait. Was he in the right place, and I was in the wrong room? I froze for a minute, because I wasn’t sure. I’ve never been in a men’s bathroom before, so I don’t know what they look like.
Apparently he was thinking the same thing, because he just stood there staring at me. Until a woman popped out of another stall and started laughing. That answered our question. He’d gone into the wrong room.
Have you ever done that? Read a sign wrong and ended up embarrassed? I haven’t done it with a restroom sign yet, but I’ve done it in other circumstances. And it’s at that point I wish I would have slowed down and taken the time to make sure I understood where I was going before I started running.
Joyful are people of integrity,
who follow the instructions of the Lord.
Joyful are those who obey his laws
and search for him with all their hearts.
They do not compromise with evil,
and they walk only in his paths.
You have charged us
to keep your commandments carefully.
Oh, that my actions would consistently
reflect your decrees!
Then I will not be ashamed
when I compare my life with your commands.
As I learn your righteous regulations,
I will thank you by living as I should!
I will obey your decrees.
Please don’t give up on me!
It’s easy to take the Bible and apply our own understanding to it. We can pick any verse we want and just guess at what it means, but that doesn’t mean we actually understand what it means.
One of the many great things about God’s Word, is that it can be used to explain itself. The Bible never contradicts itself, so you can use Bible verses to understand other Bible verses. You should never just take one Bible verse and take it at face value. You have to know who it was written to, why it was written, when it was written, even where it was written.
If you don’t, you’re going to end up in trouble. If you just run haphazardly with a random Bible verse you think you understand, you’re going to confuse people and frustrate yourself. Sort of like a man finding himself in a women’s restroom, you’ll think you’ve understood the sign, but you’ll realize later that you just saw what you wanted to see.
When you’re trying to understand the Bible, don’t be afraid to ask a trusted mentor or pastor. When you’re trying to make sense of particularly difficult passages, don’t just assume that your personal experience is enough to help it make sense. And whatever you do, always ask God to help you.
If you believe in Jesus, you have the Holy Spirit, and He will help you understand God’s Word.
Reading the Bible isn’t like reading a book. It can be, but the Bible isn’t literature. The Bible is God’s Word to us, His instructions for how to live life, and the Bible grows with us as we grow, getting deeper and stronger and fuller with every passing year.
So take the Bible seriously, and make the time to truly understand what you read. It’s better to put the effort into it the first time than to have to eat your words later on.