Context is Everything

Recently I've become aware of a very human and potentially dangerous tendency among us Christians.  It involves taking a verse out of its context and reciting it or even (gasp!) posting it where it is readily praised and embraced - not so much as the inspired word of God that it is, but more because it is so "positive" sounding.

The second-most recent example of this was the stated intention of one who decided she would "live in the moment".  When I suggested (privately) that it was a good motto as far as it went, she assured me that it was supported by Matthew 6:34 - "Do not be anxious about tomorrow....."

I said " far as it goes" because the first word of that verse is "Therefore"; and in my days in formal Bible training years and YEARS ago, I learned to look what the therefores were THERE for!  In this case, it it in the context of trusting the Heavenly Father, seeking first His Kingdom and His righteousness.  For the child of God, living in the moment means something SO MUCH MORE and something entirely different than it does to someone who is not related to Him!

Do you see what I mean????

The most recent example involved the posting of these verses this way:  "whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things...And the God of peace will be with you." ~ Phil. 4:8-9.  

Great verses!  But once again, the first word of this inspiring thought is left off.  It is "Finally".  In other words, this is only a wrap-up and to be practiced AFTER something, not in place of something.  

If you're still with me, you're either thinking,
"My goodness, she is picky" or else you are seeing the importance of context..  
While "living in the moment" and "thinking about good things"
will put us in a broader company and cause us to be more widely accepted and/or admired,
Scripture is NOT a "mantra"!
The Bible speaks of being careful NOT to be squeezed into the same mold as the world.
That, for me, is the goal.
In this case, the extra mile (context) is the ESSENTIAL mile
and I need and want to WALK it thoughtfully. 
Anybody with me?


  1. My friend, can I say AMEN!!! I have been struggling with so many people in sheep's clothing, that the Word of God tends to be diluted from its original simplicity. The Word of God has been the same from the beginning, it will continue to be the same when He returns!

    As for me...I'll walk this journey with you, by looking towards price... m.

  2. I have used Phillipians 4:8-9 lately myself, because I need to think on those things after the loss of my dear husband. Verses 4-7 are the prelude to 8&9.

    Matthew 6 is a great chapter on how to live.

    I do not wish to be anxious, but find myself that way during my days and nights and I just pray to God to be merciful to me a sinner and thank Him for dying for my sins and loving me and saving me. He is my strength when I am weak and my hope is in Him. He is the author and finisher of my faith.

    For by grace are ye saved through faith;
    and that not of yourselves:
    it is the gift of God:
    Not of works,
    lest any man should boast.
    Eph 2:8&9

    My prayer is this ~
    Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning;
    for in thee do I trust:
    cause me to know the way wherein I should walk;
    for I lift up my soul unto thee.
    Psa 143:8

    May we all grow in God's grace and tender mercies.

    Have a lovely Sunday ~ FlowerLady

    1. Sweet Lorraine, And yes, sometimes a verse stands out and brings much comfort/instruction/hope, etc. But you are right to see verses 4-7 as "prelude", I think. Rejoicing & petitioning the Lord with thanksgiving help condition our minds so that we CAN think "on those things".....

      It IS only by God's gift of grace that we are "kept" and guided!

  3. Yes, I'm with you and I agree. I think we all do this from time to time but it is important not to take verses out of context.

  4. Context is all-important! If someone walked in on the middle of a conversation between two people and heard a phrase or a single sentence, but didn't know the context of the preceding interchange, that person might derive quite a different meaning based on lack of knowledge. I think that it is like this with God's Word. We must know the whole story to understand the meaning and intention of the words.

    1. Great example, Cheryl. And though I'll never this side of heaven know the whole story, I'm thankful that the Holy Spirit is a ready and willing Teacher...

  5. You're right! I know that we can't always include the whole context, like when I'm posting a photo and verse, but I hope I've never used a verse misleadingly.

    1. That's true - we can't always post the whole context, Elizabeth. My concern is more that I PRACTICE the "whole context" and not just pull out "pet verses" for emergencies and then turn around and continue to neglect the practices that provide for stability, peace and spiritual health.

      Isolating a few of God's precious words and treating them as a mantra (a mystical formula of invocation or incantation) is trendy but dangerous!

  6. Dear Rebecca,
    How neat to find your post about single verse. Earlier this year I was struck with "Finally" and "Therefore" of paragraph development in the epistles and mentioned my trepidation to a friend of using Scripture in a blog post. (I'm still adjusting the the short length of "the post"). I decided that it is would be helpful to mention, in parentheses, the subject of the context surrounding or preceding a single verse so the reader may take an interest in looking it up.

    The Man-of-the-House had a Bible School teacher who said something challenging. To study a N.T. letter read the entire letter completely through in one reading. Then go back, again and study it as slowly and as meditatively as you wish. I was a new Christian when I heard that. I wonder how much of a letter was read aloud to the early church at a time. There were no chapter/verse divisions then.

    Romans 8:28 is often quoted in half. Have you noticed this? What is left out is "to those who love God" and/or "to those who are called according to his purpose." Wow, verses 29 and 30 that follow, are rich in doctrine.

    Thank you for bringing this to mind.
    Karen A.

    1. Yes! Romans 8:28 is a frequent example of one used out of context.....
      And you're right--it IS a challenge to "use" Scripture in a post short enough
      to be read by the average reader.....
      Thanks for weighing in, Karen!

    2. WOW! I just looked up Romans 8:28, and yes it sure is quoted a lot. I then looked up 8 28-30 and it changes things, then I read 8 26-30 and it really becomes quite something, very powerful, and not so much a "all about me" statement. Hope that makes sense. And, this is what I love about blogs, some posts and subsequent comments really, really, open my eyes.

      Thank you Ladies,


  7. Yes, I'm with you and agree of the importance of context. Unfortunately at times, it's impossible to share full context within a post or status update. At times, what I've done is reference the entire text by putting a link to the full chapter, etc. on verses typing out just a part of the text. Hope that makes sense. Other times, I share a portion, within the context of what I'm ministering or writing and then tell people to, "please go read the entire chapter on your time to get the full context". With that said, it should never be our intention to use verses out of context and it's also all of our responsibilities to read the Word for ourselves and not just rely on the words that others share in their posts, etc.

    So, that was my long way of saying, I agree with you Rebecca.


    1. And I agree with YOU, Lisa! You explained well how to point to the context,

  8. Your not picky at all but I see no harm in being picky with God's word if we see it misrepresented.

  9. Timely words, Rebecca, and a very important reminder for me.


  10. I am totally with you. I've thought about what comes before *finally*, more than once.

  11. I think I've been guilty of this myself. I'll be thinking of your words when I use a single verse to support my writing, looking back for context. You always give me food for thought.

    1. Stay tuned, I just about have my next (related) post ready to go!

  12. Good word!! Thanks for reminding me of what I know but so easily let slip at times also...some times I am just sloppy, thinking others know the context.


Writing a Song a Week #3

Writing a Song a Week #3
♪ I wait for the Lord; my soul waits and in his word I hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning ♪ (Psalm 130:5-6)