“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
2 Tim. 2:15
There is an old hermeneutic joke that reminds me of just how important it is to properly interpret the bible.
Say for example, you’re one of those people who won’t take out the time to study God’s word in context. You pick up your bible and say: “Anywhere I open, it’s God speaking to me.” And so, you open Matthew 27:5 which says: “Then he threw down the pieces of silver in the temple and departed, and went and hanged himself.”
“It must be some kind of mistake”, you think to yourself, but instead of making your bible study more intentional, you open another page at random and find yourself at Luke 10:37, which says: “Go thou and do likewise.”
You close it quickly, but continue on, hoping to be lucky next time. You find yourself at John 13: 27, which says: “What you have to do, do quickly.”
There is a message here all right, but God cannot be telling you to hurry up and kill yourself! The lesson is that it takes a studious man to know God. It takes someone who is hardworking to understand God’s word (2 Tim. 2:15).
When studying God’s word, don’t read a chapter or verse and walk away with a conviction based on that. Study the pre-text and the post-text. What other places in the bible talk about the subject you’re studying? Is it emphasized in the gospels and the epistles? Remember these should form the bulk of your diet as a Christian. You must also take into cognizance the law of audience relevance. It is a law in hermeneutics that reminds us that the bible isn’t written to us but for us. We must discern to whom a word was spoken, in what place and for what time.
Don’t be lazy. Rightly divide the word of truth.