When I was little, I loved Sundays. I enjoyed hearing Bible stories, singing, and listening to my dad preach. But my young mind often misunderstood the words I heard. There are many songs and scriptures I was confused about until I was older.
One young girl I heard of was just sure that Jesus taught us to ask God to “Give us this day our jelly bread.”
There are plenty of hymns I mangled when I was a kid. I’m sure most children sing, as I did, “Low in the gravy lay.”
A little guy I knew in Oklahoma had just learned that “hurl” was a modern euphemism for throwing up. One day when we had sung “Faith is the Victory,” he asked his dad why the song said, “let all our strength be hurled.” He couldn’t understand how someone could “hurl” his strength.
In Matthew 18:3, Jesus told his followers, “Unless you… become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” He meant that we should have the characteristics of children, such as humility, trust, and innocence.
But those who are mature in the faith should do a better job than children of studying to understand God’s Word. I’ve seen too many examples of someone who had a preconceived idea and went to the Bible to find a verse to prove it. I’ve also seen times when people, without thinking, lift verses out of context and say they mean one thing when they really mean something else.
For example, 1 Corinthians 2:9 says, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.” Many quote this verse to show God has great things waiting for us in heaven. That is true, but it’s not what Paul was referring to. If you read the context, you’ll see he was talking about the present blessings we have as a result of the “secret wisdom” God has revealed.
In Matthew 18:20, Jesus said, “For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone quote this verse to show that Jesus is with us when we worship together. No one disputes that fact, but that’s not what he was talking about here. In this passage, Jesus was explaining how to discipline a brother who has sinned against you. In verse 20 he is encouraging his followers by reminding them that as they deal with this difficult situation, he will be with them.
When you study the Word, pay attention to the context. Who was speaking? Was he inspired? To whom was he writing?
We DO need to become like children, but not in the way they often get mixed up in their understanding of the scriptures. “Study to show yourself approved to God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)