I recently received a chain email that told a great story. I am not going to go into detail, but at the end it reminded the reader that we have to feed the hungry, give to the poor, help the weak, clothe the naked, and so on… I actually thought the story in the email was really good, but I got a little frustrated at the end when the writer decided to include scripture, because they were clearly used out of context.
Don’t get me wrong, I know and believe it is good to support those who are in physical need, but it is so much more important for us to understand what we are being asked to do spiritually. Who are those that need clothing? Who are the poor and the hungry? What are we really being asked to do?
For example, Revelation 3:17 says, “You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.” How is it possible these people didn’t realize they were poor, blind and naked? I can guarantee you I would know if I was walking around naked!
If we do not have spiritual understanding of these things, how then can we do what Jesus counsels us to do in the very next verse? Rv 3:18: “I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.” If I do not think I am blind I will not put salve on my eyes, if I do not realize that I am naked I will not put clothes on, and if I thought I was already rich then why would I buy more gold (other than greed of course)…?
Using Bible verses out of context, or with the incorrect understanding in order to give a good motivational speech or present an emotional sermon, means people are adding their own thoughts and understanding (man’s teachings) to scripture. These sermons and speeches contain mixed teachings, worship made up of rules taught by men – their lips honor God, but their hearts are far from him (Is 29:13).
Have we become complacent? Do we think we have it all? Are we so rich that we think we do not need to buy the refined gold? We need to search for understanding of God’s hidden secrets. Man’s teachings must be replaced by God’s teachings. Now is the time to seek and find, to hear all the explanations and understand those things hidden since the creation of the world (Mt 13:35).