Personal Application, or a Battering Ram?
I have been saved a long time. In that time, I have seen it all. Christians are made out of the same flesh as anyone, and for me personally, it is something I battle every day. Keeping my emotions under check. Acting graceful. Acting godly. Keeping my temper in check. Trying to think on the things of the Lord. Having joy in the midst of trials. None of us are perfect, and none of us have it all together.
My husband preached a really good sermon the other day. It really got me to thinking. Here is the sermon if you are interested. Basically, in a nutshell, it was about the verse Hebrews 11:25 which is- Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. Many Christians take that verse and use it as a battering ram against other Christians. It's not meant to be a "battering ram" type of verse. When we use verses as battering rams, it turns those things that we are using the verses FOR into a burden. Like assembling. If you are beating someone over the head with that verse, suddenly, they see coming to church as a rigorous command that they must follow, and they get a bad attitude about it. People should come to church because they WANT to. Because they LOVE coming to church. Because Christ died for the church and it's important. For me personally, you can't keep me from church. I love it. I love the brethren, I love the fellowship, I love the preaching and teaching. You can't keep me away, and I feel like it's the same with all the members at Liberty. It's not grievous to me. It's a joy to go to the house of the Lord!
As I pondered that sermon, I thought of other things in my life. We all have our pet platforms. We all have our priorities. We all have things that are important to us in life. Let's face it. We can pretty much find a verse in the Bible to support and promote what we want to promote. Do I use Scripture as a battering ram? Do I take Scripture and use it to beat other people over the head with?
For example, someone is going through a hard time in their life. They post about it on Facebook. Maybe it seems trivial to me. Maybe I am facing much bigger battles in my life, at least in my opinion. Instead of offering them a verse about Christ being with them through trials, I instead jump on and fire off Philippians 2:14- Do all things without murmurings and disputings... Suddenly, I have turned Scripture into a battering ram.
Let's say someone is having a hard time losing weight. Instead of quoting an inspirational verse to encourage them, we jump on and quote- Proverbs 22:3- And put a knife to thy throat, if thou be a man given to appetite. Battering ram.
Maybe we are having a rough day with our kids. Nothing seems to be going right. Everything is topsy turvy. It happens. We all have bad days. We tell our friend. Instead of telling us that Jesus will gently lead those that are with young, because he gets it, he knows it's hard! We are quoted- Proverbs 15:20- A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish man despiseth his mother. Wow. That's helpful, thank you so much. Battering ram.
There is a time and place for everything. Going to church and getting preached at by the pastor is one thing. He is there to use the battering ram of Scripture at times. He is there to edify, encourage, but also to rebuke. But do we all need to be going around preaching at our friends and family every day of the week? Do we need to stop on every post we disagree with and use Scripture as a battering ram against said person? I don't feel like that's very edifying, in fact, it can really put a bad taste in the other person's mouth. A verse that might have brought them comfort and peace in times past, now, when used as a battering ram, suddenly becomes like dust in their mouth.
And before you say, yes, but if they were spiritual at all, they would accept correction, especially when Scripture is used! Ok, maybe, but we are all at different walks in our spiritual life. We all have strengths, and we all have weaknesses. Most of us are going through things that no one knows about. We are facing battles that for us, are huge. Instead of being told "Suck it up, buttercup, you are a complainer and it really ticks God off", maybe we need a verse about God providing comfort during rough times.
Words matter. They have the power to tear someone down, or to build someone up.
For me, personally, I prefer to look at verses and use them for personal application. I will quote verses. Mainly when I am talking to women about a particular thing I have been ASKED to talk about. Not because I want to passive aggressively go after someone and really put them in their place! It's not my job to do that. It's not my job to "fix" everyone. It's not my job to go around and use Scripture as a battering ram against other Christians. I am sure there are plenty of things in my own life that people could turn against me if they wanted. I want to treat everyone else the way I want to be treated. I would rather practice Ephesians 4:32- And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.
One of the verses people like to level against other Christians a lot is Philippians 2:14- Do all things without murmurings and disputings. If they don't like what you are standing for, they'll throw that verse out against you. Your stand is not their stand, hence you are complaining. If it is something that they agree with, well, then they will use this verse- Ephesians 6:13- Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Do you see how you can pretty much take any verse and use it whichever way you want to? I see it ALL THE TIME. But let's look at the rest of that section. Here is the whole section-
Philippians 2:14-16- Do all things without murmurings and disputings:
15 That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;
16 Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain. I didn't want to put the whole chapter, but the whole chapter is about exhortation. Putting others' needs before our own. Doing everything without strife. When I read this, it convicts me. I need to care about others more. I need to be compassionate. I don't know what they are going through at this moment in time. I don't know the battles they are facing. I don't need to be using Scripture as a battering ram against them, but rather, as an encouragement to them. I need to bathe them in love and prayers, not trying to prove to others that all they are is a complainer, or that whatever stand they decided to take is a stupid stand. I don't need to try to use Scripture as a way to put them down; to show others that they are just a crummy, backslidden, sorry Christian. That's the Holy Spirit's job, not mine. I want to edify other Christians, not make it my life's goal to show how I am the most spiritual Christian ever, and how everyone else can't measure up to my level of spirituality. No, thanks.
What I took away from my husband's sermon was this- I can't control what other people do. I can't control what they believe, or how they react to different situations in their lives. For some, when going through a tough time, they prefer to hunker down, endure, and be quiet during the entire storm. For others, they need to talk about it. It is a way of therapy. They need to write down their feelings and their emotions, their thoughts, and what's on their heart. The last thing they need is an over zealous, over Scriptural person coming along and beating them over the head with Scripture. It does more harm than good. God created us all differently. We are not clones, and thank goodness for that. The world would be scary if it was all Cassandras in it! No, thank you! I am glad we all have our unique personalities and quality traits.
For me, personally, I want to read the Bible and apply it to my own life. I want to use the verses I read as a way to improve my own walk with Christ. I try not to read Scripture as a way to have "ammo" for the next Facebook post I don't agree with. The commands and words of Christ are not grievous to me, and I don't want to beat other Christians over the head with them, so that they then become grievous to them. The Pharisees did that, and I want no part of that attitude.
How are you using Scripture? As a battering ram, or for personal application? For me, I have enough problems in my own life that need addressing, and I don't need to try to fix everyone else.
Let's try to keep that in mind the next time we see someone going through a hard time.