When I saw this image being shared among my facebook friends, I literally laughed out loud. First, I have been known to tell my own children they better check themselves before they wreck themselves. Probably more times than I can count, and more times than they care to remember. Check your attitude. Check your responsibility. Check your accountability. Check that look on your face, tone in your voice, and your body language.
Second, exegesis is so incredibly important to me. It should be to any believer, but especially those who are going to teach the Word or lead in a ministry. If you don’t know the word, in summation it is the critical interpretation of the Scriptures. In Acts 17:11, Paul and Silas were preaching at Berea. They commented on how the Bereans’ would eagerly listen to the teaching, but also searched the Scriptures daily to make sure that what was being taught was accurate.
Some people may roll their eyes when they hear a Pastor say … “in the original text” or “if we go back to the original Greek word”. This is not a statement of arrogance that this particular Pastor knows more, or his level of education is superior. This is a statement that the Pastor has not just studied the Word for his message based on our every day understanding, but rather he went further into deeper critical interpretation. He practices good exegesis.
The lens in which we interpret Scripture is vital. If we get it right, we are bringing people to the feet of God to learn his ways. If we get it wrong, we become the false teachers the Scriptures warn us about. Not every false teacher is going about with mal intent to destroy the Gospel. Some, have really good intentions and fully believe they are teaching the right thing. But, as the phrase goes, the pathway to hell has been paved with good intentions.
We can stand firm that the Scriptures are enduring, and everlasting. His message to us in the words on the page does not change, because God is unchanging. However, we would be remiss to think that OUR understanding of a particular word has not changed over the years. There are words we use in our every day vernacular today, that do not mean the same thing it did even 20 years ago. There is a reason the Scriptures remind us to not lean into our own understanding.
I’ve watched too much divisiveness happen, over Scripture, because each person was looking through their own personal lens. They define the word based on their culture, their education, and their influence. Recently, there was a large controversy involving a speaker at a conference. The speaker was from another country, with a different history regarding racism and sexism. I still believe that the largest contributor to the controversy was miscommunication. She spoke from her personal lens to an audience that received it through their own personal lens.
Words matter, yes. Context matters most, because context helps us clarify the definition to the exact meaning of the word at the time it was used. In critical interpretation, exegesis, we are tasking ourselves to make sure that every time we speak about the Scripture that our interpretation is accurate. And, in doing so, we must also be willing to accept & admit that we are or have been wrong.