Are You Taking The Word of God Personally?
This is a question that each believer must ask him/herself. Am I taking the Word of God personally?
I remember being a young believer, and every time I read Scripture, I would see how the principles of God applied to all those people who had wronged me… Am I alone on that? I would see something in Scripture about loving your neighbor and the first thing in my mind was “see, I knew they weren’t treating me right!” I consistently used the scriptures that called out sin to be my tool of condemnation for others while I was holding tight to all the promises of Scripture as my warm and fuzzy blanket-o-feels.
Scripture is meant to be a mirror, not a window. We are to look at the Word and see where we fall short and the areas that God needs to groom in order to make us into the image of Jesus Christ. The Scriptures show us the character of God and how he has always been faithful in dealing with his people. We get to know the God of all creation and start to trust in him. We don’t look through the Word at other people in order to see where they fall short.
This was a stumbling block to me, especially as I read the Psalms. While reading the book of Psalms, one comes across a number of imprecatory writings. These psalms seem to be focused on the enemy of the author. The author wanting to see the destruction of their enemies for what has been done. Several of these dark psalms were written by King David, the man after God’s own heart.
There are a few things that I find amazing about these psalms
- We are given a precedent for speaking to God out of our own brokenness. We see that David was hurt and lost in his pain and suffering. In these desolate places, through isolation and abandonment, David finds honest words to share his heart with the LORD our God. He does this honestly and without pretense.
- The psalmists never have their faith focused on another person, but on the God who is Lord over everyone. They cried out to God for justice or for punishment, all the while acknowledging that God is the one in whom their faith rests.
- The psalmists take the Word of God personally. For every psalm of imprecation we see, there is contained within, a place where the psalmist returns to their own responsibility in serving and following the Lord… no matter the outcome.
Looking at Psalm 55, for example:
20 My companion stretched out his hand against his friends;
he violated his covenant.
21 His speech was smooth as butter,
yet war was in his heart;
his words were softer than oil,
yet they were drawn swords.
22 Cast your burden on the Lord,
and he will sustain you;
he will never permit
the righteous to be moved.
23 But you, O God, will cast them down
into the pit of destruction;
men of blood and treachery
shall not live out half their days.
But I will trust in you.
Even though David is lamenting the betrayal that was done to him and calling on God to cast down his enemies to the pit of destruction, David ends with “But I will trust in you.”
David knows that whatever the lot, he must continue to trust in God; that he must cast his burden on the Lord and be sustained in him. David trusted in God to be the author and perfecter of his faith (Hebrews 12:2). David sought to please God in all he did and he knew that it was impossible to please God without faith (Hebrews 11:6). So he worked out his own salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12) all seeking first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness (Matthew 6:33).
So, I ask again. Are you taking the Word of God personally? Are you reading the Word and thinking “how can I apply this to my life?” or “how can I use this to trust in God more?” Or are you reading the Word for other people? Looking at scripture through the lens of “somebody else needs to read this” is never a productive way to read Scripture, or to live out your walk with Jesus for that matter.
It’s okay to read scripture and recognize where we’ve been hurt by others. It’s also okay to pray to God about those who have hurt us or situations that have failed us. What we must never do is to stop at that point without acknowledging our own responsibility to trust in God no matter the outcome.
I pray that you will allow the Word of God to be a mirror that shows you where you have fallen short in fulfilling the greatest commandments, loving God with all that you are, and loving your neighbor as yourself. That God will soften your heart so that you don’t just stop at seeing the flaw, but so you will surrender all to God and allow him to mold you into the image of his son Jesus Christ. It is in that Name, Jesus Christ, that I pray, Amen.
Blessings in Christ,