Most people are in love with their own ideas. Self-infatuation is as common among the rich and educated as it is with the poor and ignorant. What each of us thinks often takes center stage in our own personal dramas.
That is probably not shocking. We might even question the sanity of anyone who devalues their own words, but God has some strong warnings against those who profess their own ideas in contrast to the words of God. Our Claiming Christ devotional study continues its review of what Scripture defines about being “in him”.
Many people claim to be Christians, but the evidence is scanty in many cases. So it was as well with ancient Israel. In Jer 23:36, we reflect on God confronting those believers who share their opinions as if they are supported by God. Things haven’t changed much in the last 3000 years of God-following history.
It is common today to hear Christians share some personal insight while bolstering it with phrases like, “God told me”, or “I got the sense from the Lord that….” According to Scripture, such justification of our ideas is condemned by God, if we haven’t actually heard from the Lord.
At other times, it is common in many Christian small groups to go around the circle sharing feelings and opinions regarding Scripture. It is a great way to share and learn, but not when such personal interpretations conflict with what the Bible actually teaches.
Again, many have experienced interactions where passages of Scripture have been quoted that appear to support a particular view point, but which resist or even deny other verses that teach differently. This is the reality of those who twist select statements of Scripture in an attempt to justify what they want to believe. It is a temptation that can afflict even the most sincere believer.
We are instructed that scriptural understanding is not a matter of private interpretation. As useful and interesting as personal ideas are, they are not equal to truth. Hungering for truth should always dominate personal expressions. In this sense, the practice of sharing our thoughts should demonstrate a clear preference toward discovery and elevation of biblical truth.
“A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions.” (Pro 18:2)
Our Christian culture today has shifted from a pursuit of truth in our churches and small groups to a superficial sharing of opinions. It has produced a new ethic that sincerely protects a safe sharing environment at the expense of upholding the word of God. This ethic elevates full group participation at the expense of speaking truth (which would require correction of errors). For sure, sharing our own thoughts is a form of honesty, but it is shallow when compared to the deep integrity of seeking truth in biblical compliance.
When our opinions, ideas, beliefs, and words are expressed in contrast to what the fullness of Scripture teaches, we are dangerously close to committing intellectual adultery. Those who desire to walk blamelessly before the Lord, however, will actively subordinate their own views to comply with what God reveals in Scripture—what the Bible calls “bringing every thought captive to Christ”.
They will resist the temptation to lend false credibility with the sharing of their views by invoking God’s words or influence when such revelation has not been blatant. They will encourage small group participation to emphasize pursuit of understanding truth well in excess of studies-by-opinion.
True Christians will worship in Spirit and in truth, even if it means restraining personal expressions within biblical boundaries.
So what do you think? (Careful, this is a trick question)