“Hey Mum! Just wanted you to know that while I’ve been here this summer, I’ve become a really good stripper. One of the guys I spend a lot of time with is a great stripper and when I watch him I am amazed. He can even do it blindfolded!”
Is anybody else a little bit uncomfortable with the paragraph above? Would you believe that I actually had this conversation with my son last week? Let me tell you a little bit more.
My son is attending Basic Training with the military. The cadets all live together on base (the guy with whom he spends a lot of time). Last week they were issued rifles. All week they have been practicing stripping the rifles (taking them apart) so that they can clean them.
What’s my point? Context. If you don’t know the whole story, you really don’t know what you know.
That may sound silly but how often have you heard part of a story, formed an impression only to discover that you were missing some key facts?
Many people, when they are reading the Bible, skip around from place to place. Not really reading with a plan, they graze through in no particular order. The result is that they miss much of the context for situations.
For example, in Matthew 4:19, Jesus tells the disciples, “Come, follow me and I will make you fishers of men.”
It is easy to understand that Jesus wanted the disciples to learn how to ‘catch’ men. It makes even more sense in context with Matthew 4:20 when the disciples, “At once [they] left their nets and followed Him.” Knowing that these men were fishermen helps us to understand why Jesus would use this example. The men would understand what a huge commitment the fishing was to be. They would grasp the time involved and they would realize that if they gave it their whole effort the catch would be abundant.
Taking the time to discover the context allows us to truly understand the message.
2 Timothy 3:16
All Scripture is God breathed and is useful for teahing, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 2:15 KJV
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.