What’s The Context Of That Passage In The Bible?

Yesterday I saw some atheists complaining about a man preaching the gospel in a subway car.  One commenter said when she sees these ‘street preachers’ she always hands them a little note with this verse of Jesus speaking that leaves them speechless:  “Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them.  If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 6:1, NIV)

Now does this verse mean you can’t publicly preach and display your faith?  If you read the rest of the passage you’ll see that Jesus is talking about hypocrites who speak loudly about their good deeds.

These people are doing it for their own benefit like, “Everybody!  Look at me!  I just gave to the needy.  Praise me!”  Now that’s wrong.

So, if this man who is preaching on the subway car was doing it for his own gain, then yes, it’s wrong.  But, if he’s doing it for God and the benefit of other people, then who’s to say it’s wrong?  Who are we to judge another man’s heart?  Only God knows what someone’s ‘real’ motivates are.

Today, as I was reading a devotional from Walter Henrichsen, I came across this… “You should read and study God’s Word like you read the morning newspaper.  The context gives you the meaning of the words.  Let the text make its case.  Don’t try and be cleaver by seeing any more or less in the passage than what the words warrant.”

What perfect timing!  🙂

I’ll admit, when I first started reading the Bible, I’d take things out of context.  I’d even use verses to make my case (out of context) and listen to other’s quote the bible out of context (and I believed them).  Now I’m always looking for the whole verse and passage.  I’m looking for the context of what is written before setting them in stone.

Just remember, taking verses and passages out of context leads to errors and misunderstanding.

Keep spreading the Word!

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