I had ordered the package a week before. It was already a day late and as we drove home, we passed a UPS truck leaving our area. An expectation had been set. Nope – nothing on the porch, and UPS is used to leaving packages there.
I go to the trusty PC, bring up the order site, check the shipping – and their site says it was delivered, and has a tracking number. I take the tracking number to the UPS site to make a complaint. The entries’ response was “Not available.” I was becoming frustrated! I went back to the order site, to be certain I had the tracking number correct – and noticed I had misread the carrier. It was USPS, not UPS.
I was wrong. I had an expectation set in my mind and filtered what I quickly glanced over to fit my expectations.
How often do we do that with scriptures? Or, take one bit out of context since it does fit our expectations? That’s why I strongly advocate personal study based on a desire to learn more.
One example is the ever quick to be used:
Judge not, that ye be not judged. (Matthew 7:1 KJV)
It is not good to create a doctrine on a single verse. Look to the surrounding verses to know the subject matter, the speaker, the audience as well as the rest of the lesson. It will take several verses to understand that judgment is not condemned when it is done correctly. Besides, that same lesson is found in Luke:
Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: (Luke 6:37 KJV)
Once again, there’s an introduction to the lesson, and additional informational information follows:
Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again. (Luke 6:38 KJV)
It’s also not good to seek out a verse that agrees with a specific purpose. We still need to check the surrounding verses and the other criteria. A small example is a verse often used in wedding vows:
…whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God:
The whole verse:
And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: (Ruth 1:16 KJV)
… was said by a Moabitess to a Jewess, a widowed daughter-in-law to her widowed mother-in-law. A commitment from King David’s great-grandmother to his great-great-grandmother. Go back a little further in the genealogy in Matthew and we find:
And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse; (Matthew 1:5 KJV)
That Rachab is also known as Rahab – remember her from Jericho?
And Joshua the son of Nun sent out of Shittim two men to spy secretly, saying, Go view the land, even Jericho. And they went, and came into an harlot's house, named Rahab, and lodged there. (Joshua 2:1 KJV)
… mentioned again several times in the New Testament. My favorite is in Hebrews:
By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace. (Hebrews 11:31 KJV)
Take time to pay more attention than I did between UPS and USPS. While you may follow “rabbit trails” down different paths, it is best to realize differences. The difference can be a simple verse or two between right and wrong.