I have found that far too many Christians know a lot of isolated Bible verses and even have their own life verses but have very little understanding of the actual meaning or context of those verses. It’s not uncommon to hear Saints quote the Bible without realizing that the meaning of the text has little to do with the application they’re trying to make. For example, Philippians 4:13 is one of the most familiar and oft quoted passages in the Bible. “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” To many this means that they can accomplish virtually anything they hope to accomplish. Imagine me, at my current age of fifty-four with my bad back and failing vision, stepping into the batter’s box against Mariano Rivera in his prime and hoping to hit a home run. I can quote Philippians 4:13 with all the religious zeal and faith I can muster but he’s going to throw three of those vicious cut fast balls by me and I may not even see them, much less hit one of them. Has the Word of God failed? Nope. I did. And nothing in Philippians 4:13 gives me any hope that I could ever hit his fastball no matter how much I trust in “him who strengthens me.” It’s because the Scriptures cannot be used in this way. The text has nothing whatsoever to do with hitting a baseball, or success in business, or overcoming impossible odds for that matter. What the text does teach me is that no matter what circumstances or situation that God puts me in I can be content in his strength. That’s the point of the text and it’s the only point of the text.
I would like to encourage you to try a new way of learning and applying the Scriptures. Choose a book of the Bible and read through it multiple times. Then come back and study through that book verse by verse and paragraph by paragraph with the goal of accurately interpreting each verse in its proper context. After you’ve done that, you’ll grow accustomed to understanding the context and situation that the passage is set in and will more often draw from those texts when you are put in similar contexts and situations. When you do, they’ll be applicable to the situation you are in. Should you find yourself facing Mariano Rivera and need some encouragement just remember over 1,000 others struck out too so don’t get too down on yourself … or God for not answering your prayer for a miraculous home run.