Sit down, have some cherry pie, and let’s talk.
So this isn’t my typical article. No frivolous silliness here. Just prepare yourself. Today is a soapbox day, and I’m on it. Maybe by the time I’ve finished you’ll be on it too and then our message can spread to the world! This is my battle cry!
Cherry-picking. Oh how I hate it. I don’t mean picking sweet delicious fruit from a summer-sun dappled tree. I mean plucking a Bible verse out of its broader context and using it to promote your latest feel-good phase. Christian…stop it. Immediately.
Get your Bible handy. I mean it. This is serious business. Bring it up on blueletterbible.org or grab your desk top leather bound, and turn to 1 Corinthians 2. We’re ‘bout to come to Jesus. Go straight down to verse 9 and read it. Does it make you sigh? Does it strike some romantic chord within you? Does it heighten your emotions to think that God has some big surprise awaiting you? Well, snap out of it! (I’m begging your grace with my tone throughout today. I tell you, if I see this verse out of context one more time, I’m gonna have a moment.) Now go back and start reading in verse 6 through the end of the chapter. In fact, because I don’t believe you’re actually there with me now, here it is in the simplest paraphrase I know. (*NLT, emphasis my own)
Yet when I am among mature believers, I do speak with words of wisdom, but not the kind of wisdom that belongs to this world or to the rulers of this world, who are soon forgotten. 7 No, the wisdom we speak of is the mystery of God —his plan that was previously hidden, even though he made it for our ultimate glory before the world began. 8 But the rulers of this world have not understood it; if they had, they would not have crucified our glorious Lord.9 That is what the Scriptures mean when they say,
“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared
for those who love him.”
10 But it was to us that God revealed these things by his Spirit. For his Spirit searches out everything and shows us God’s deep secrets. 11 No one can know a person’s thoughts except that person’s own spirit, and no one can know God’s thoughts except God’s own Spirit. 12 And we have received God’s Spirit (not the world’s spirit), so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us.
13 When we tell you these things, we do not use words that come from human wisdom. Instead, we speak words given to us by the Spirit, using the Spirit’s words to explain spiritual truths. 14 But people who aren’t spiritual can’t receive these truths from God’s Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them and they can’t understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means. 15 Those who are spiritual can evaluate all things, but they themselves cannot be evaluated by others. 16 For, “Who can know the LORD’s thoughts? Who knows enough to teach him?” But we understand these things, for we have the mind of Christ.
Now, reason with me if you will. (Taking a deep breath here…letting it out slowly.) Just by reading the words I emphasized (and if there was a “shout” option, I would have added it too!) do you see anything that might cause you to interpret verse 9 differently from the way it’s typically used as a stand alone thought? Is it really good news to you that you can’t know what God has planned for you?? Is that good news to anyone? Would that entice someone lost in the world’s darkness to turn to the light and say, “Now, that’s some good news!”?
Let me help you. What Paul is essentially telling the Corinthians is, put simply, that it is unbelievers who can not know what God has planned for those (of us) who love Him. Because of their ignorance, they crucified Christ! But (did I emphasize that enough?) we have the mind of Christ and the Spirit of Truth so that we can know all the wonderful things God has freely given us. Why on earth would He not want us to know all the good things He has freely given and has planned for us?
Christian, do you see it? Do you see the lie Satan is spreading throughout the world every time you use this verse out of context as if it is good news – posting it to your Facebook page and pinning it to your Pinterest board? The lie says that God is secretive. God is not forthcoming. God is unknowable – far off. God withholds from His own children what is good and hopeful. Do you see the damage Satan is doing to God’s reputation? Do you see the damage he’s doing to yours? Perhaps an unbeliever would not understand the spiritual truths being unveiled here, but they can certainly read with intelligence, and if they took the time, would see what is plainly spelled out in scripture. Our scripture. The Word to which we have entrusted our eternal souls! And yet we use it as if we are ignorant of its message. Are we? Shame on us. No wonder the world mocks. They should.
Alrighty. That’s enough finger wagging, I promise. I pray, however, that that particular bite of cherry pie just fell in your lap and stained your shirt on the way down. I pray that conviction moves you stand up under its weight and run…run…to the Word and embrace it as if your life and eternity depend on it. I pray that you might become a workman approved to rightly handle and hold out the Word of life to a generation that is perishing in unbelief. You won’t always get it right, none of us do, but we can certainly be without the kind of error that would be obvious to anyone with time, inclination, and two seeing eyes. Let’s endeavor to stop cherry-picking. Make it so, dear Lord.
Now, let’s talk about Jeremiah 29:11…
(* In the newest translation of the New International Version this passage is handled with clarity, not breaking the grammatical train of thought between verses 9 and 10. If you pulled up blueletterbible’s version of the NIV you read it as it is newly translated. Most of us, however, are still carrying around our 1984 translations which have the unfortunate break in thought. Please, if nothing else, memorize this passage in its new, better, more accurate phrasing and repeat it as GOOD NEWS!)