Imagine that you are lost in an unknown land, fortunately with a map to navigate, to your hotel room. However, you can think of the havoc you can bring on yourself, if you don’t know how to read the map or you probably read it wrong. Same can happen to your spiritual life with wrong interpretation of Bible. Because that Book in your hand is the map that can lead you to the place, where Jesus went to create mansions for all of us. I leave it to your imagination, what happens if you wrongly read this and head in that direction.
Here are the 5 major mistakes we can make while reading Bible. Keep them in your mind as you meditate the Scripture, so that you can steer in right direction :
1. Not letting the Bible speak first :
If I may borrow the words of a man of God : “The reason that Christendom today has so many denominations is, we all look at the bible through our own lenses of perception. Rather, look at all the theories and theologies through the lens of Bible.” So as you approach to read the Scripture, keep aside all your theories and listen to what the Scripture teaches you.
2. Not pausing to check for coherence :
Let’s say, you’ve interpreted something from your reading. Please pause enough to check that it does not contradict the basic truths and doctrines that are already stated. Your interpretation must be in coherence with the whole Bible. Use the basic truths as yard stick to measure your interpretation. But don’t twist the truths according to your own interpretation. If you do, after some time, you won’t have a reference point to navigate through you own sea of interpretations.
3. There’s no such thing as randomness :
Everything occurs owing to the knowledge of the infinitely genius Mind, who operates according to His own will. Bible is not a compilation of some random sentences which do not have any connection with one another. Every sentence is placed in a particular context with a specific meaning. Whenever you got a problem to solve, don’t randomly open your Bible, look at some verse and say that God spoke to you through that. Jesus says : ” for He[Holy Spirit] will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak, and He will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for He will take what is mine and declare it to you (John 16:13,14)“. You need to fill your mind with His word so that Spirit of God guides you, inspires you and corrects you in the respective situations.
4. Not everything is about ‘you’ :
A fact is overemphasized in recent years that Bible is a love letter written to you by God. Well it’s true. But the books of Bible are often written to a specific person or church and definitely with a specific end purpose in mind. A lot of that content is applicable to us but there are certain things which are specific to that particular Church and that particular person. One should keep in mind the context in which it is written, the time in which it is written (i.e., the time in history), the geographical and social conditions that exist in the times it is written.
For example, “Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses.(1 Timothy 5:23) “. Here Paul writes this to Timothy, not us. Don’t take it as an excuse to drink wine now!
5. Do not over spiritualize :
Holy Spirit uses the content of the Bible to nurture our souls and helps in progress of our spiritual lives. But not every single verse is for this purpose. People have the tendency to apply every single verse to mean something spiritually. This occurs more often in interpretation of parables. The real meaning of the parables is given by Jesus Himself. Except those meanings, no other one is valid.
Take for example, the weeds and wheat parable (Matthew 13:24-30), its purpose is to tell us what happens at the end of ages. Don’t pause and ask : ‘Why is the man who sowed the seed sleeping?’ ‘Does Jesus,the Man who sowed the seeds sleep, while Satan comes and sows weed?’. No!! Don’t do this! Parables are used to interpret the spiritual truths that are otherwise difficult to fathom. Don’t miss the forest for the trees.