Idle (Day 3)

In considering this concept of living idle lives, we have seen that God’s will is not for us to become complacent. Instead, we should be hard workers who seek to honor God with every area of our lives. Yesterday we examined perhaps the least honed part of most American’s life: the body. We saw how as the temple of the Holy Spirit we should constantly be on the lookout for laziness and making sure we are in the healthiest condition to honor God and serve others.

Of course, there is more to this idle concept. Our minds are involved as well. The good news about reading this blog is that if you are indeed reading it, you are already interested in getting your minds involved in reading God’s word and drawing closer to him. The warning that I am giving is that we fail to use our minds to all they are capable of. Instead, we trust others to do the work that God intended for us to do.

One of the best and worst things about American culture is that we can get things so easily. Go to the supermarket and there are aisles and aisles of ready to eat food; no cooking required. We can use the drive through at a fast food restaurant and pay someone else to cook for us. We do the same many times with our spiritual lives. We let other people do the thinking for us. We listen to podcasts and read blogs, devotionals, magazines, etc. and take their views as golden. I would even discourage you from taking my own views and interpretations as solid truth. Test every doctrine against the Bible to make sure you are finding the truth.

In the American Church, I feel the greatest problem in this area is too much trust in the pastor or evangelist. We trust them implicitly because, after all, they are the ones who have spent hours studying, going to school, reading other books, and have the spiritual gifts to make them the best. While this is true, and ministers who work hard should be given a hearing, it should not replace our own mental journey into the Bible and its context.

Today’s chapter I want us to consider is 2 Timothy chapter 3. Please take some time to pour over the entire passage. In this chapter Paul is encouraging his disciple Timothy to follow his example and live counter culture. The Hellenistic culture in Paul’s day was very open about gluttony, drunkenness, and sexual immorality. Paul wanted Timothy and the other followers of Christ to live in a way that honors God in all they did. Check out these specific verses:

2 Timothy 3 (NLT):

[14] But you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught. You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you. [15] You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus. [16] All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. [17] God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work

 

Paul was making sure that Timothy knew how valuable the Scriptures are how God uses them in our own lives to draw us close and equip us to live counter to our world’s culture. We must regularly make time for reading God’s word so that we can understand right from wrong and to be prepared to serve others. I remember what it was like to receive a letter from my wife when I was gone for military service. I would pour over it again and again because it was her words to me of love and encouragement. It reminded me that she loved me and wanted to be close to me.

In the same way God’s word is his love letter to us. It has endured through the ages because God wanted us to know his love, the truth about morality, and the story of his greatness. But consider this as well, just as my letter from my wife was written to me specifically, the books of the Bible were written at specific points in history to specific people. That means we must consider the context of history, the context of the writer, the context of the audience, and the purpose for the document being written in the first place.

While God did set this apart as Holy Scripture, when those who wrote it first penned it they had no idea God was working through them to create a writing that would endure for thousands of years. Considering this as an ancient document, it would be foolish to think that everyone could read it and understand everything in it. True, many important parts of the Bible are readable by anyone with basic reading level (most importantly the good news of Christ’s salvation). But we cannot expect to glean all the goodness from the depths of the Bible if we do not learn more about it, those who wrote it, why they wrote it, and when they wrote it.

Always remember that ‘context is key’. We cannot entirely understand anything without context. To understand the context of the Bible we will have to do our homework. We’ll have to read and study other literature beside the Bible itself. In many church bodies today that would be tantamount to heresy. They teach that the Bible alone is all you need. But I contend that like a letter you might find on the ground, we can only read it for all it is worth when we know the context it was written in and for.

How do we do that? Start with the basics: find a commentary that is written by a trusted author. I recommend the John MacArthur Commentary set because it covers the entire Bible and has proven trustworthy in my own life. However, there are tons of online commentaries that can be read for free. Choose, but choose wisely. And again, don’t take what they as solid truth. Compare it to what you have read and learned and what makes the most sense. Test any person’s teaching to see if it is solid.

Whew. That’s a lot to consider! But I do beg you to consider reading outside sources to better understand the Bible. The years I have spent in seminary have taught me that the more I know about the Bible the more I realize I have to learn. I want us to get the most out of the precious resource we have to know God and draw close to him. This can be better accomplished by reading the Bible daily but also taking time to learn more about it from experts. Let’s start this balancing act today.

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