I admit it – This is a question I have asked myself.
How much freedom do we have as believers in the application of Scripture in our daily lives? The key issue in this post is the freedom aspect. Can I take a verse that contextually speaks of topic “A”, and apply it nowadays to a completely different topic, let say topic “B”.
Let me give you some background as to why this has cropped up in my mind lately. I belong to a great Sunday School class and they have a group text system to inform us of prayer needs and reports of praise as we go about our days.
This past week, a fellow believer had to undergo a serious, life threatening operation, and as we all prayed, we were excited to see that after the operation, our brother’s wife informed us of the success of the operation. Of course this brother is an elderly man, and the operation was a serious threat to his immediate health.
Upon informing the group of our brothers success in the operating room, many of us spoke praises to God for the success of the operation, and spoke of our continued prayers for him and his family. He is not out of the dark yet!
One brother, bless his heart, spoke boastfully (I fear) of his continued recovery, stating…
He will complete the good work of recovery and restoration that he has started.
I am sure my brother is seeking to simply encourage the wife, and I assign absolutely no bad motivation or malice to him in this statement, but I wonder if this is a wise message to offer a believer in this circumstance.
First, it sounds like it is a free interpretation of Phil 1:6, which, as some may know, I believe is speaking of monetary gifts given to Paul by the local church of Philippi (See Conditional Security – Philippians 1:3-11), and not of a unilateral promise of God in continually restoring one’s health.
This is an impossible interpretation, in that we all eventually die!
Now of course if my brother is a prophet, that is another ball of wax that may be considered at a later date, but from all the discussions I have had with him, he has never claimed to be apostolic or prophetic.
As I have ruminated previously, providing a promise to a fellow believer (or a non-believer) as if directly from God but taking liberties in applying a promise, brings potential shame on the name of the Faithful One. (Truth is invincible, only if applied truthfully)
In an earlier post I have recounted a story of when I discussed the word of faith teaching with a preacher of the same persuasion and of some of the unintended fall out of this teaching. (See Story Time in Ezekiel 34 – Shepherds & The Sick – 5) This fallout, not only of putting words in God’s mouth, and of the potential shame as mentioned above, but also includes the weakening (or decimation) of a believers faith, if the promise is not fulfilled. I am convinced this is a totally unintended action but if considered in the light of Scripture, may have incredibly serious implications.
In this culture that is completely free of all moral bonds, as believers, we need to cling to the truth, and yet not overextend it’s application. Truth has boundaries (an essential characteristic of truth), and at the risk of sounding faithless, only God knows the immediate future of our brother in the hospital. We all seek his wellness, and I believe we all know his future depends on the the wisdom of God and His tender mercies.
Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.
The Lord has instructed us to be gracious in our communication, and informed us that in this gracious attitude, we would know how to answer each other. To encourage a brother is to include truth, not to simply make us feel better in the immediate context. That may be the reason (at least one reason) Paul included the mention of salt. Salt sometimes stings. Gracious words are not to avoid truth, which may sting.
I look forward to comments and questions, especially passages of Scripture that may help in understanding this topic better.
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Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.