Listening to Abba: October 2013

Every Party Needs a Pooper



I’m hesitant to write this because it has the potential of making you mad. That's not my intent.

Well then, what is?

I’m a little concerned (okay, a whole lot concerned) about a particular verse that is being used as a platform for “positive thinking.” 

Wait, that’s not completely it. My real concern is this: how rarely we do our homework when it comes to interpreting scripture.  If something sounds good, or rings true we take a portion of a verse or passage and run with it; using it to support our teachings.  Eventually, everyone is quoting it and even whole books are written on its premise.

And few ever bother to actually look up the verse and read it in its context.  Sigh.  

I want to wake us up a bit and start to question what we have believed and/or taught.    

My intention is to challenge our hermeneutics. Herm-a-what-ics? Never mind. If this blog post makes us ask, “What does that verse really mean?” and causes us to go back and explore the chapter and book surrounding it, then I will have considered it worthwhile.

Okay. Drum roll. Here’s the verse that I think we are getting wrong (Hear me out before you throw something at me):

For as he thinks within himself, so he is.”  Prov. 23:7

I hear this verse quoted frequently, interpreted as, “We become what we think.”  Now, I’m not denying that our thoughts and beliefs influence our actions, or even that we can change our behavior by changing our thoughts.  But I am denying that this particular verse teaches that.

How can you say that, Kinsey?  It’s pretty obvious, “as a man thinks, so is he.”

I admit, it does look good, and secretly I want to use it just like everyone else does.  But have we ever stopped to read the surrounding verses?  Here they are:

Do not eat the bread of a selfish man, Or desire his delicacies; For as he thinks within himself, so he is. He says to you, "Eat and drink!" But his heart is not with you. You will vomit up the morsel you have eaten, And waste your compliments.…  Prov. 23:6-8

Did you just hurry past that or did you carefully read it?  I’m not going to do a long-drawn-out exegesis here.  Hopefully you will stop and examine it for yourself.

Just a quick glance makes me think the author is warning us not to covet what a selfish man offers.   My paraphrase:  
Don’t be tricked by his smooth talk.  He’s not what he appears.  On the inside he is against you. Don’t be fooled by him, or crave what you think he can offer you.  It will come back to haunt you.  This guy cannot be trusted.  If you want to know what he is really like, take a peek into his greedy heart.
Some might dismiss my concerns and say, “Alright, maybe that particular verse is not the best for teaching about the power of the mind, but since it is true that our thoughts dictate our actions, can’t we just forgive the fact that it’s taken out of context?”

Insert screeching tires, busting glass, and the sound of a car hitting a wall.

Answer: Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

We cannot, must not twist and pull out scripture to support our beliefs. We derive our beliefs from scripture. And if we don’t keep the bigger picture in focus (context), how on earth will we ever correctly interpret the smaller picture? 

I don’t want to be a party pooper. Well, maybe I do. If we are dancing to the wrong music, someone's got to pull the plug.

I hope we have all been challenged. This isn’t my typical story-telling blog post. But it’s what I woke up with at 3 a.m. and now that I’ve written it down, maybe I can go back to sleep.

Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth.  2 Tim 2:15