“We have two ears and one mouth, which ought to remind us to listen more than we speak. Too many times we argue with God’s Word, if not audibly, at least in our hearts and minds.”
The above quote is from Warren Wiersbe’s commentary on the book of James (Be Mature: Growing Up in Christ).
The quote reminded me of a call-in guest I’d heard not too long before on a radio program. He identified himself as a Christian who was a formerly practicing homosexual and then said, “I had to get to the point at which I read God’s Word and said, ‘I agree with that. I may not like it, but that doesn’t change its rightness and trueness.’”
That’s an amazing statement, I thought, and went on, but God kept bringin
g it back to mind. The issue, I realized, is that it is easy to tell someone struggling with an “obvious” sin that he/she needs to agree with God’s Word, but it is even easier to ignore the fact that I need to do the same. I once listened to Shane Claiborne, author of several books, including Irresistible Revolution, talk about the fear with which he approaches the Bible. He said something like this: If I truly believe the Bible is God speaking to me, then I can’t just ignore what He says. Every time I open the Bible, I find that I am called to do something that disrupts my comfort.
It is easy for me to point the finger at those who have beliefs or lifestyles that noticeably contradict Scripture and say they need to accept God’s Word. But what about my “acceptable” beliefs or actions that are pointed out when I allow Scripture to pierce me, when I read them and say, “Yes, I agree that this is TRUE and right, even though I don’t necessarily like what it is saying about me”?
Shane Claiborne, focusing specifically on the Church’s attitudes and actions toward the poor, and how we place more emphasis on some commands/theology than others, wrote, “But I guess that’s why God invented highlighters, so we can highlight the parts we like and ignore the rest.”
Mark Twain wrote, “It ain’t those parts of the Bible that I can’t understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand.” I am most definitely mis-interpreting Twain’s original intent (considering that you generally find this quote and many others of his on atheist Web sites), but I can apply it to my life. The meaning is clear when the Scriptures call my heart “deceitful” and “desperately sick” (Jeremiah 17:7-9) and my tongue a “raging fire,” “set on fire by hell” itself (James 3:6), but I don’t like those pointed statements, and I haven’t “highlighted” those verses in my Bible.
But Scripture calls itself a dividing sword. Sometimes it’s like an axe (like when the prophet Nathan confronted David about his adultery with Bathsheba and his murder of her husband, Uriah: “You are the man!” [2 Samuel 12]). Other times it’s as fine-tuned as a laser: Psalm 19:12 asks God to reveal “hidden faults,” because “who can discern their own errors?”
I encountered the Warren Wiersbe quote about arguing with God because I’m in a Bible study on the book of James right now that is using his commentary, and I’m discovering lots of verses in James I’d like to ignore. But instead I’m called to read verses like James 1:20: “…be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God” and AGREE with it. I have to say, “You’re right! My anger—no matter how provoked—is not working Your righteousness. I HAVE to let go of my anger no matter how justified it seems or how good it makes me feel in the moment.”
Wiersbe also writes this in his James commentary: “Too many Christians mark their Bibles, but their Bibles never mark them.” And pastor/speaker/author Stuart Briscoe says, “As we look into Scriptures, we (must) let the Scriptures look into us.”
I agree with that. Now it is time to DO it.