The day was going well. Breakfast, refreshing shower, way ahead of schedule with work, and pretty good weather outside. But BAM, I got hit in the head (metaphorically) by the Word of God. I’m sitting here reading my daily Proverbs, when one of the text just pierced my mind.
He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous
are both alike an abomination to the Lord.Proverbs 17.15
Yes, I know this seems pretty straight forward, pretty simple words of wisdom … but something about it just got to me in light of today’s cultural and political environment. We may not justify the wickedness, but we do justify people whom we might not necessarily like to get our agenda across. Politics makes strange bedfellows, so they say.
And then there is the condemnation of the righteous. We quickly write people off, cancel them out, and claim them guilty by association. This passage makes no difference in the eyes of the Lord.
And notice, it is not the act of acquitting wicked or condemning righteous … it is the person, the one living in such a way, he who does it that the Lord detests.
Have I done this? Have I allowed, permitted, aligned myself with others just to get my way? Or judged guilty others that I shouldn’t have? Am I an abomination to the Lord? Does He detest me?
Now, I can dig into the passage more, but I really want to challenge you on how you handle scripture that is difficult, that convicts, or makes you wonder of its true intent.
What do you do when His Word seems to punch you in the gut in the way you think or the way you live? Why should we bless those who revile us? How can we deal with the passage of wives submitting to their husbands in a world of equality? What does it mean to love God means to hate our mom and pop? How can we explain the scriptures on gender and sex and marriage in a culture that seems to attack the same scripture every time you turn around?
How do we deal with difficult Scriptures?
Now, there are some easy ways to deal with it. Option A … You can ignore it – write it off – just don’t give it a second thought. Lots of people do this and live the way that seems right in their own eyes. Danger … doing what is right in your own eyes leads to death. You could go with option B … call your pastor. (And yes, I get it quite a bit from people current and long time associates.) You have a car problem, call a mechanic. A health issue, schedule a doctor’s visit. Bible question, challenge your pastor. He only works one day a week anyway. Not bad, but I think each of us need to learn to wrestle with the text ourselves. And option C … Google it. Yet way too many points of view for this, but at least you’re digging into the text on your own.
Let me give you a short list of ways to start handling difficult texts …
- Pray … go to the author of the Word and ask for wisdom, humility, and an open mind and heart.
- Check the translation … different translations give good insight and hearing it in different ways can help understand difficult words (example, KJV says ‘suffer the little children’ but others say ‘don’t prevent’ and that sheds light on it.)
- Check the notes, cross references, and comments … a good study Bible will often give insight to variations, explanations, etc., especially in difficult passages. And you will often have cross references to help fill in gaps from one specific phrase or verse. Scripture is the best interpreter of scripture.
- Dig a little deeper … ask the pastor or trusted friend, work to understand it, learn basic Bible study methods using commentaries, histories, word studies, and more. Scripture can be tough. Even Peter said some of Paul’s writings were hard to understand. (More on methods later!)
The point of all this is NOT to just understand the Word, but to live it. So I ask myself, do I justify the wicked or condemn the righteous in today’s political arena? If I have, I want to stop now. I want to live by the Word.
Lord, adjust my steps. Keep me on the straight and narrow. Don’t let me stray to the right or left. Keep me in your Word.
That’s my prayer today. What’s yours?