November 20

Written by Bill Grandi on November 20th, 2023

There is a basic rule of interpretation for Bible Study that is important: let Scripture explain Scripture. A favorite method of some people when reading the Bible is the pick-and-choose method. Some may call it the-hunt-and-point method.  Here is how it works: a person cherry-picks a verse here, another one there, and maybe another one there to form a thought or belief.

There are, of course, multiple dangers in that method.  Perhaps you have heard the story of the man who used that method to decide what to do. One day he opened his Bible and pointed and it said, “Judas went out and hung himself.”  Wow! That didn’t say much. So he closed his Bible, opened it again and pointed. This time it said, “Go and do likewise.”  Yikes! He hurriedly closed his Bible, reopened it and pointed. This time it said, “Whatever you hand finds to do, do quickly.”  🙂  I know it is a fanciful story but it does show how some read the Bible and how dangerous it can be to take that approach.

In my reading this morning, I was in Matthew 7 (I’m starting over in the NT reading from the New Living Translation. Since I had finished reading through twice last year in the ESV, I decided to just start again in Matthew 1 and use the NLT). Anyway, in Matthew 7 there are  two passages which cause a lot of angst and consternation and even vehement speech, with one of them especially being a “clobber verse” in reverse. A “clobber verse” is one of those verses that Biblically conservative people are accused of using to clobber those who refuse to follow the teachings of the Bible. This is one in reverse in that it is a favorite of those who don’t like being told they are morally wrong. They like to throw this one in the face of the one who has shared biblical truth with them.

Those verses are Matthew 7:1-5. It says, “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged. And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.”

You know how that is used. “How dare you judge me! How dare you tell me that what I am doing, the lifestyle I’ve chosen, the choices I’m making are wrong! Who died and left you boss?” This person wants to live by his/her own standards and the devil be hanged if anyone tells him differently.  Take a risk and say something and you are judging. Guaranteed these verses will be thrown into your face.

But we can’t lose sight of the other passage in Matthew 7 that throws some light on understanding that passage as one Scripture helps explain another. Read Matthew 7 on your own and let me know what Scripture you think will be referenced…TOMORROW.

Due to the length of this devotion today, tune in tomorrow for the rest of my thoughts on these two passages.


10 Comments so far ↓

  1. I’ll be tuning in, Bill!

  2. Ryan S. says:

    It is important not to read the Bible in a scriptural vacuum.
    Understanding context, audience, and even the societal norms of the time are all important.

    • Bill Grandi says:

      Exactly Ryan. “A text without a context is a pretext.” You said the same just in different words.

  3. gail says:

    There are many Bible verses that get misquoted, and used wrong. We definitely need to understand how to explain the verse when someone takes it out of context. You can respond by saying the Bible is my standard of truth, first we need to know who the verse is speaking to, what was the situation, and what was being explained. Also it’s best to admit you are not a Bible expert, to explain something wrong is far worse, than to say, lets slow down here, look in the Bible, read the study notes together, and let’s first understand who this book was being written to and why. Being willing to say you cannot rush through the Bible, it takes time to understand, and more you read and meditate and pray on the more that will be reveal to you. The Bible is a constant learning spiritual, heart changing book from God.

    • Bill Grandi says:

      Well said Gail. I am not ashamed to admit when I don’t know the answer. I think there is something good that comes out of that actually. One, I/anyone who says it, is not seen as the expert. Two, that means I have a lot of learning to do as well. Thanks for the well thought out and insightful answer.

  4. Linda Stoll says:

    Grateful for you … Happy Thanksgiving, Bill.

    • Bill Grandi says:

      As am I for you Linda. Thanks for being there in your writing and in your thoughts. May you have a grateful Thanksgiving.

  5. Cheryl says:

    I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving, Pastor Bill, filled with God’s blessings and provision!