Context!

A quote out of context can be a terrible thing. Be careful that what you hear from someone is the whole truth. This is the problem with listening to stories from others and not hearing it yourself first hand.

There are false books that do this very thing to early New Testament Greek Scholars Wescott and Hort in order to support a faulty defensive strategy of an English Translation of the Bible.  When we must resort to ripping things out of context to support our positions, we might want to reconsider them.

However, this post is not about Bible translations.  It’s about integrity.  It’s about listening to the whole conversation, especially in preaching and in ministry.  Pastors are not perfect people no matter what denomination you may belong to and no matter what church you may attend.  They will slip up in their preaching from time to time and may or may not  notice it.  That said, their pulpit ministry should not be subject to sound bite gotcha’s.  Many labor hours over their messages, studying and spending time with the Lord and then spending time in the pulpit trying desperately to convey what the Word is saying to people that at times would rather not hear it.  They do this week in and week out and their messages are a tapestry that should be taken as a whole.  Yet some are determined to hear only what they think he will say.  They lay hold on one topic or line and miss the message.  They may even study the Bible like this focusing so much on the minute that they miss the message.  The Pharisee’s were this way.  Jesus said they strained at gnats and swallowed camels… that they thought they knew the Word of God and yet they missed what it was pointing to, namely to Jesus HIMSELF.

Observe the following quote from our December 30 am service…
“Debbie you ought to get your heart right, because you are a filthy rotten sinner and you are lazy, and good for nothing and a sinner.”

OUCH!  I cannot BELIEVE that a pastor would say that!

Sounds bad doesn’t it? However the full quote concerns the problem of being judgmental.

Observe the context…
“You don’t judge another servants work, we are not the masters of one another, you don’t look out over this congregation and say well Debbie isn’t doing as much work as Karen and so Debbie you ought to get your heart right, because you are a filthy rotten sinner and you are lazy, and good for nothing and a sinner. This church (Corinth) was so busy judging one another that they weren’t getting anything done!”

This trouble of taking things out of context often finds its start in the pulpit with the pastor himself.  As pastors we need to be sure that we model the right example to our flocks concerning this difficulty.  I am sure that over my 14 year ministry of preaching I have done this very thing.  Used a sound bite to characterize an individual instead just sticking to the Word.  Let’s leave these things and get back on track my friends, the time is short and we have work to do.


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