I recently wrote about how we can misconstrue the truth behind Scripture when we cherry pick in an effort to rationalize our own behavior. So, what can we do about it? It’s a challenge, after all, when we’re used to seeing so many verses shared on social media in multiple contexts. Even many worship service messages use one Scripture verse to launch a message. (I’m not saying it’s a bad thing. There’s a lot to say about even the shortest of verses. As long as we keep the teaching focused on the context of the verse, we shouldn’t get too far off base.)
I could be misjudging the situation, but I think there are less people who read and study Scripture on a regular basis. Even people who attend church regularly, believe Jesus is who he says he is, and know a lot of Scripture might not be consistently digging into the context of the verses they know. Through a variety of interactions, I find many people receive (and appreciate) what they learn during worship services (or online messages and podcasts) but don’t dig very deeply on their own. Maybe they’re not quite there yet. Maybe their passion for Scripture will grow. Whatever the reason, the solution to cherry picking is to continually get familiar with the context of truth in Scripture.
We can’t fully know and embrace everything in Scripture. We can’t understand it all. No matter how many times I read my Bible cover-to-cover and spend time deeply studying sections of it, there are still so many aha moments. In the last few months, I have seen several posts or comments that ask something like, “Does anyone know which verse in the Bible says something like…?” In many cases, I felt as if people weren’t asking for help remembering a specific verse but were looking for a verse that would serve as support for what point they wanted to make.
In order to break the habit of cherry picking, we can (1) know Scripture better. Of course, that takes time—a lifetime actually. Today is a good day to start. And in the meantime, we can (2) ask what principles in Scripture convey what we’re trying to communicate. If we focus on the character of God, we not only seek truth and accuracy but also spur people to dig deeper into the wider breadth of Scripture. And we challenge ourselves as well.
When people were more familiar with the Bible, we could share a verse, and people had a grasp of the context and application. Because we don’t share that literacy as much any more, we have to be sure we are reflecting God’s character with what we’re sharing and applying. If we want to interact with people about the truth, we have to be more familiar with the truth.