Have you ever been around “movie people”… the people who are always quoting movie lines to each other and then laughing hilariously? You may laugh with them so you don’t feel left out, but on the inside you are painfully aware that you have missed the context that makes the quote funny. Context is important because it gives meaning to what was said.
When we read God’s Word, context is important, too. Sometimes we quote Bible verses and claim them as God’s personal word to us. Don’t get me wrong, I believe God speaks through His Word, but we have to remember context. All Scripture was written to a specific person/people in a specific situation, and we have to understand that context before we can make application.
Here’s a quick example. In Joshua 1:9, God was speaking to Joshua about leading the people of Israel, “…Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (NLT) If a friend were considering a career move to another state, should he claim this Scripture as God’s direction because He promises “…the Lord is with you wherever you go”?
Looking at this Scriptures in context, we can see God’s encouragement was being given to Joshua not for his personal benefit, but for him to be able to accomplish what God had called him to do. To apply this passage to my example, perhaps our friend needs to ask, “Does this career move open a new door of ministry to accomplish something for God’s Kingdom, or just a bigger salary for me?” If it’s the former, perhaps God is using this Scripture to bring direction. If it’s the latter, while God may want to bless him with a bigger salary, context would tell me that God is not using this Scripture to communicate that message. Context is important because it gives meaning to what was said.
(written for "Pastor's Note" in 2-13-11 bulletin)