Kelly O'Dell Stanley
I struggled with this piece, because really, I could write it in one sentence: The only bad way to study your Bible is to NOT DO IT.
See? Easy and simple. Done.
But nothing in life is ever that simple, is it? And studying the Bible is a complex and often intimidating endeavor.
Just like with any practice of our faith, and no matter how good our intentions, we will fall short. I don’t say that to discourage you, but to assure you that it’s normal and that no one (including God) expects perfection. If I can be real for a minute, I’ll confess that I have approached reading the Bible with a bunch of attitudes that have prevented me from getting the most out of it. Somehow, probably because God is more generous than I can fathom and because there’s such depth to the word of God, I’ve walked away, nearly every time, with a nugget of wisdom or a deeper sense of peace. I bet you have, too.
Read on and see if any of these thoughts have passed through your mind, and then let’s pray together for help overcoming and understanding.
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1. "I'll take this... and this... but not that."
(Picking and choosing individual verses)
You can find a verse to support nearly any opinion you want to express. But the truth is, this only works if you take the verses out of context—if you neglect to look at who the author of that passage was, who he was speaking to, and how the verse fits into the scope of the whole gospel story. There’s nothing wrong with focusing on one verse or finding related passages as you study a topic. But there is danger in pulling it all out of context, because that’s when we can accidentally assign meaning that wasn’t originally intended. Our search for God is a search for truth-with-a-capital-T, and deceiving ourselves by not looking at the whole story won’t get us there.
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