Have you ever been having a bad day, and someone tells you to “count it all joy?” Not only can this response be condescending, but it isn’t very helpful. When we read and quote the Bible in little trite phrases, we miss the bigger picture of what God is trying to tell us. While there is truth in James 1 about persevering through trials, knowing that in the end we will be more complete, this truth only matters because of who God is; not because of who you are.
When we read the Bible, we shouldn’t be mining for keywords or phrases that make us feel better, or appear to pertain to our personal situation. Rather, we should consider the context, the audience, and most importantly, ask, “what does this passage say about God?” and not, “what does this passage say about me?”
With that in mind, I give you: Top 5 Misused, Misinterpreted, And Mistreated Verses In The Bible
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11
Spoiler Alert: This verse is not talking about running late to work, getting a speeding ticket, and then spilling your coffee all over your work computer. This verse isn’t even about getting laid off, or the loss of a loved one. This verse isn’t about you at all. These words were spoken in the midst of the Babylonian exile in 597 BC, when King Nebuchadnezzar sent 10,000 citizens of Jerusalem 500 miles away to Babylon. Talk about a bad day. Jeremiah wrote to these people, breathing words of hope into their situation. This is still a powerful verse, and even more so considering the context.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28
I will keep my comments here short, because this video is so spot on. I will say that the biggest issue in misinterpreting this verse comes from how we view “good.” Good does not mean easy. Good does not mean living an affluent lifestyle. Good doesn’t even mean that we will always have enough money at the end of the month. It does, however, mean that no matter what God is big enough to work in and through our circumstances to bring Himself glory, and a glorified God is always good for us.
Ask and it will be given to you… Luke 11:9
Seems pretty straight forward, right? This passage, coupled with Psalm 37:4, which says that God will give us the desires of our heart, appear to be telling us that all we have to do say a few words to God and boom we get get whatever we want. When we consider the entirety of scripture, (as we should be doing every time we open the Bible) we will notice verses like Jeremiah 17:11, which says that the heart is deceitful above all things, and we’ll see earlier in Luke, Jesus taught His followers how to pray, asking for the kingdom, and forgiveness for sins. In this new light Luke 11:9 no longer looks like a magic button to push in order to get things and stuff; it looks more like the calling that it is, to go deeper, to ask of God that His will be done.
I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13
If I see one more motivational poster quoting this verse with an athlete, training equipment, or a gym in the background, I’m going to quit life. Paul was not training for a triathlon when he wrote these verses. He was in prison. Paul was not so much speaking to physical strength, or even mental strength to obtain a long sought after personal goal. He was talking about enduring any situation for the sake of Christ’s name.
You will always have the poor among you… Matthew 26:11
Some Christians hide behind this verse, and use it as an excuse to be apathetic at best towards poverty. In fact, looking again at the bigger picture provided throughout the passage, we see that Jesus is quoting from a passage in Deuteronomy 15. Here in Matthew, Jesus is giving an explanation for why it was ok for a woman to use expensive perfume on him before his death, rather than sell it and give the money to the poor. This defense assumes that giving to the poor is something that his people are doing anyway, and should continue to do once he is gone.