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Pointers along the way #174

Believes all things and judges nothing?
- Jacob Ninan

A literal interpretation of the Bible without thinking about what is written can cause much practical damage. It may appear to be radical to say that we accept what the Bible says just as it is written. If this means that we don't try to make our own interpretation contrary to what the Bible says, or go beyond what is plainly written, it is fine. But if it means that we apply this as a rule which excludes thinking about what it really means or questioning ourselves to see if we have understood it properly, it can be dangerous.

The Bible says that love believes all things (1Co.13:7). Does this mean that we should never question anything? Actually the Bible says in another place that it is only the naive who believe everything! (Pr.14:15). Obviously we can't take this verse about love literally, but we need to understand what it really implies. It may include things such as believing good things about people unless there is evidence to the contrary, hoping the best for people even though currently it is not going well with them, etc. This is the understanding we get when we think deeply about the meaning of the verse, which would not have been possible if we had tried to believe the verse just as it is written.

Many people think of "Judge not" (Mt.7:1) as if we should not analyse anything, or think or discuss about anyone in order to reach some conclusion about him. Jesus Himself said that we should judge righteously (Jn.7:24). It is clear in this case also that Jesus was implying something other than the plain meaning of the words "Judge not". I think He meant that we should not pass opinions about others in a condemning, despising manner, as if we were perfect ourselves (Mt.7:3).

These are only two examples of how unrealistic our understanding of Scripture can be, if we do not make the effort to question and analyse what we believe. We become gullible, accepting every new teaching that comes up just because it is preached in a convincing manner (1Ti.1:7;2Ti.4:3). Satan uses "Judge not" and "believes all things" to keep us away from developing discernment.

What happens when we make such literal interpretation of the words of the Bible is that we think we are being very faithful to it. But when this is an unrealistic interpretation, we are actually not able to practice what we preach! But we continue to proclaim what we think we believe even though it is not true in practice in our life, because we think we dare not question the word of God. Isn't this hyprocritical, even if we are very sincere and our intentions are good?

God has given us the Holy Spirit to lead us into all the truth (Jn.16:13). When we go wrong in our understanding, He gives us a warning in our heart. It is good for us to pause there and try to see where we are going wrong. In that way we shall be protected from errors, and also be led into more and more of the truth.