“Do you ever find yourself skipping over the parts of the Bible that present challenges?” I asked Stan one morning.
“Challenges in the sense of being hard to understand?” he replied.
“Not so much that,” I said, “but more in the sense of being hard to accept.”
“Oh,” he responded, “like when it says something you really don’t want to do, or think you can’t do it? Is that what you mean?”
“That’s it,” I replied. “What do you do with those verses?”
“Well,” Stan said, “let me give you two different perspectives, one in the past and one in the present. There were certainly times in the past when my approach to reading the Bible was to skip over or ignore the parts that went against what I wanted to do or thought I was incapable of doing.”
“But you’re not like that now?” I asked.
“To be totally honest,” he said, “there are still times when I am tempted to skip over some tough verses, but I take to heart what the apostle Paul wrote about all scripture being inspired by God and profitable for teaching. If Paul believed and wrote that, it’s good enough for me. When I come to a tough part, rather than skip over it, I dig deeper. I give it to the leading of the Holy Spirit to help me understand what it is I am to gain from a particularly tough verse or two or more.”
“You got an example?” I asked.
“There’s a lot of examples I could cite,” Stan replied, “but there was one just the other day that really struck me. It caused me to stop and focus on its application to me and my faith walk.”
It started in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians that he also sent to me, the part about forgiving others just as God in Christ has forgiven me. The ‘just as’ part is a very high standard. It’s easy for me to accept that I have been forgiven by God, but the question is whether I apply that same standard to me in dealing with others?”
“Tough question,” I commented.
“It is,” Stan replied, “and it becomes eve harder when I look at something Jesus said about forgiveness.”
“What’s that?” I asked.
“In Matthew’s gospel,” he replied, “Jesus is recorded as saying that if I forgive others, God the Father will forgive me, but if I don’t, He won’t. This is right after Jesus was instructing His disciples and me about how to pray that I am forgiven as I have forgiven others.”
“Tough indeed,” I said. “I can see why a person might be tempted to skip over those verses.”
“Yeah,” Stan replied, “skip over and miss the lessons of living this life I have been given to live. I can’t accept the forgiveness of the cross without living the forgiveness of the cross. The ‘just as’ is a very high standard, but that’s what it says. Don’t skip over the tough ones. They are there for a reason!”
Bible verses to consider:
And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:32.
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. Matthew 6:12.
For it you forgive men for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men, then your heavenly Father will not forgive your transgressions. Matthew 6:14-15.
All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17.
Prayer: Thank you, Father, for the forgiveness of the cross that allows me to look forward to spending eternity in your presence when my time here is completed. Thank you, too, for the eternal life of knowing you and Jesus in an ever-deepening relationship on this side of eternity. Thank you for the truth of all of your word that is set forth in the Bible. I confess that there are too many times when I am tempted to skip over the verses that I find difficult to apply to my walk of faith. Please forgive that foolishness. And please help me in following every step of your lead as you show me all you have for me in your word, as you open me to hear all you have to say to me. Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Think on this: Have you ever skipped over parts of the Bible that you found too difficult to understand or too difficult to apply to your life? Is so, what was that all about? When you come upon parts of the Bible you are tempted to skip over, which part of “all” in what the apostle Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 3:16 don’t you accept? And why is that? When you have difficulty with such verses, what is the best way to gain the understanding and application God has for you? Skipping over them is not the right answer!