It happens often. A verse gets pulled out of context. Someone’s intentions aren’t always bad. Perhaps it’s a verse that spoke to her at a specific time, and she feels by sharing it, she’s sharing the same reassurance, teaching, or challenge she experienced through it. But out of context, what if we’re not truly claiming the truth of the verse? Instead, what if we’re distorting it to apply where it isn’t intended to apply?
When people share a verse out of context over and over again, it begins to fossilize in isolation. The impressions it leaves along the way aren’t accurate of the truth behind it.
The only way to know truth is to seek truth, and that requires humility. We need to be willing to be wrong. Sometimes, it’s simply because our understanding at one point in time was limited. What we knew about Jonah, Gideon, Joseph, Jesus, or Paul might seem complete when we’re in elementary school, but as we get older, we learn more, and our picture changes. As we continue to read and listen, God opens our eyes and hearts to new details and truths, and He changes us through them. But we have to be willing to stand corrected.
We also need to not be the truth police. In His sovereignty, God is much better (and accurate) at defending His truth than we can ever hope to be. We don’t back down from the journey, but we realize that, just like the people we encounter, we are seeking truth and learning, too. Instead of finding fault, we can begin discussions. Instead of “Well, do you actually believe that…,” ask “That’s an interesting perspective. I’d like to hear more about how you reached that belief, and how you reconcile that with…?”
Refuse to retaliate with accusations. How would you respond if the tables were turned? Stop the cycle. Invite others to let down their defenses by letting your own down. Start conversations. Build relationships. Honor God through the process.