You Keep Using That Verse
Posted on October 18, 2019 by Erin Culleny in Freedom Fighters
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” — Jeremiah 29:11 (NKJV)
For any of us that have seen the movie ‘The Princess Bride,’ we know there are many moments and quotes from the movie that are absolute classics. One of my personal favorites happens early in the movie. Vizzini, the Sicilian criminal genius, has been called out by the ambidextrously trained, Spaniard swordsman, Inigo Montoya for Vizzini’s use of the word ‘inconceivable.’ “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” My guess is that Vizzini should use the word impossible but that wouldn’t have made for a good movie quote. Anyway…
Sometimes I think we need an Inigo Montoya by our side when we misinterpret Scripture, especially when we believe that what we’re quoting to others is actual interpretation. For instance, one of the most popular of these is the aforementioned verse from Jeremiah 29, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Many a Christian (this writer included) have taken comfort in hearing this precious promise of YHVH. In the early days of my Christian walk this verse was said to me as I struggled with recovering from 27 years of an addictive lifestyle.
What it said to me was that God loves me and already has mapped out a wonderful life for me. But now, looking back on things, that 27-year tribulation in my life was of my own doing, God doesn’t deliberately put harm in our path, we kinda walk into it. This is why Jesus would tell His disciples, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
So, with that, I now understand that it is important to take on the full counsel of Scripture and that it’s “context, context, context” and not what “I” think this verse means. When we go back into what the prophet Jeremiah was given to record, we’ll see that this verse of encouragement was actually given to a certain group of people, living in a certain place and time. It doesn’t say we can’t glean from it either so please don’t misunderstand me.
Now another infamous verse of Scripture that gets used as if someone has weaponized it is what we see Jesus saying during His Sermon on the Mount. “Judge not, that you be not judged” (Matthew 7:1). I’ve had this verse directed at me more times than I care to remember. Personally, I think when we Christians use it in heated conversation, we’re basically telling our opponent to “Shut Up.” Even though in the back of my gloatful little head what I hear is “Gotcha”, what has actually happened is we may have both taken things too far, too fast. This is not what Jesus intended us to do to each other.
This is why Jesus went into the subject further. He wants us to be assured that we no longer have a double standard when we look into things that require a moral judgement. To exam ourselves first before we slam someone with the mighty arm of superficial religious righteousness. What I’m not saying here is that we shouldn’t judge or be justified in our judging, but to be assured within ourselves that we’re looking through things with God’s lenses and not our fancy pair of sunglasses. You know the kind, the ones that actually keeps the Son’s rays from blinding our eyes.
And if I may borrow a little something from French cuisine, presentation is everything. What I mean by this is our motivation in making a judgement call. So many of us see someone so overboard in sin that we tell ourselves, “If I don’t do something…” It’s in this that the apostle Paul would tell us, “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another” (Gal 6:1-4).
Well, I’ve hit my word count for today but the next time I’m with you I do have two more verses to look at with you. In the meantime, I encourage you to not cherry pick God’s Word for those “zingers” that make you feel as if you have left the mark of Zorro on someone…Inigo Montoya might just be waiting in the wings. Amen?
Written by Chris Hughes: Chris, a graduate of The Colony of Mercy (11-2003) has been married for 25+ years (Kathy), has a married son (Kevin) and a daughter in college (Karen). He has been a Freedom Fighter contributor since 2008.
Think About This:“None of us can ever be fully pleasing to God if we are not willing to be well taught in His word.” — Aiden Wilson Tozer
This Week’s Verse to Memorize: The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart— these, O God, You will not despise. – Psalm 51:17
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the doctrinal and theological views held by America’s Keswick.