1. Tolerance: We've decided Matthew 7:1 means we shouldn't judge anyone or anything.(1)
2. Worldly Goals: We believe Jeremiah 29:11 and other Bible passages promise us worldly success.(2)
3. Self-esteem: We think self-esteem is the answer to our problems. (3)
4. Positive Thinking: We think we can change our destiny with our words and thoughts.(4)
But the Bible teaches:
1. Non-hypocritical Judgement: Matthew 7:1-4 prohibits hypocritical judgement, not all judgement.(1)
2. Eternal Goals: God is more interested in our character than our worldly happiness.(2)
3. Self-denial and God-esteem: Self-denial and God-esteem are the answer to our problems.(3)
4. Healthy Thinking: We should dwell on good things, but our thoughts and words do not create our destiny or assure health and wealth. (4)
We need to know what the Bible teaches, not what we think it teaches and not what we want it to teach.
(1) See Misunderstandings About Judgement archive.
(2) See Matthew 6:19-20 and Not Those Plans
(3) See Mat.16:24-25; Phil. 2:3-4; Rom. 12:3; 2 Tim. 3:1-3;1 Jn 2:15-17 and Biblical Self-Esteem archive.
(4) See Philippians 4:8 and The Power and Limit of Words.
1. Context Matters.
Reading the context of a passage is critical.
Matthew 7:1-5: Verse 1 can only be understood in the context of verses 1-5.
Proverbs 23:7 can only be understood if the entire verse is read, preferably not in archaic English.
For more on this proverb, read Do We Become What We Think?
2. History Matters.
Knowing the history of a passage is important.
Jeremiah 29:11 was written in the chapters where Jeremiah warned God's people they would spend 70 years in captivity. It is a promise of God's love and purposes in the midst of hardship, not a promise for worldly success.
3. Purpose Matters.
Knowing the purpose of a passage is important.
The Bible contains some poetic language not meant to be taken literally (i.e. Matthew 5:13). The whole book of Proverbs has a purpose described in Proverbs 1:1-6. Proverbs aren't promises unless found as such in other parts of Scripture (e.g. To accept them as promises, we must believe Proverbs 10:27 is a promise that godly people will live long earthly lives and wicked people will live short earthly lives). Some passages are directions for a specific group (i.e. Luke 10:1-16). They contain principles but we cannot use them as instructions for every similar situation.
For more on Proverbs, read Proverbs Aren't Promises.
copyright, Gail Burton Purath, BibleLoveNotes.com
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