by Cynthia L Simmons
When I was ten, my family made a trip from our Tennessee home to California. On the way, we stopped to visit missionaries who were my parent’s friends. They ministered to the Navaho in New Mexico. Mom’s friend gave a glowing report about pinion nuts. She said they were her husband’s favorite.
A few days after we left, mom found pinion nuts in the grocery store and gleefully bought a bag. I will never forget her excitement as she opened the package and poured us each a handful. However, the joy stopped there. I had to bite down hard, and the flavor made me gag. Everyone else groaned too. I spoke up and commented the inside of the nut tasted a lot better than the outside, and Mom agreed. We were eating the hull and the nut. The stories mother heard gave no description, so, she did not know pinion nuts had to be shelled!
That story reminds me of the Bible. I grew up in the South and watched ministers wave the Bible in the air and say it came from God. However, when I tried to read, my immature mind didn’t grasp much. I had no idea how to study the word.
Look at what Paul said about that in 2 Timothy 2:15 (NASB): “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth.”
I needed to accurately handle the Bible. The literal meaning of accurately is to cut straight. You would not be happy if your hair stylist left one side of your hair longer than the other.
The words ‘be diligent’ commands us to work hard at studying Scripture so we will not be ashamed. Do not eat the nut with the hull! There are several ways you can decipher the Bible. First, study a passage in context. Notice the flow of thought and look for connections. If you rip a verse from its context, you can get a false message.
Second, understand the culture in which the Bible was written. In Bible times, people wore sandals and walked on dusty streets. Knowing that can help you understand certain passages in Christ’s life.
Third, allow the text to speak. God did not waste words. Notice repeated words, patterns of words, plural nouns and singular nouns. Examine each thought for God’s message.
Fourth, compare Scripture with Scripture. For instance, the Bible tells women to teach other women, yet the Bible also says a wife should win her husband without a word. We must prayerfully compare such passages to discern God’s message.
Fifth, expect figures of speech and literary devices. When David said he “flooded his bed with tears,” the passage means he cried a lot.
Finally, know the type of literature you are reading. The Bible has poetry, history, essay, prophecy, and letters. Do not treat the poetry like an essay or the history like poetry.
These guidelines will help you dig the meat out of the Word like we learned to pull the nut out of the shell. God will bless the time you spend in His Word. He’s promised that it will accomplishes in us what He desires!
This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).
About the author: Former home school mother of five, Cynthia Simmons has a special spot in her heart for young moms and loves to encourage all women to pursue God. She hosts Heart of the Matter Radio, and writes inspirational fiction and non-fiction. Find her at www.clsimmons.com.
Valuing Gold: A Novella of the Civil War: Uneasiness permeated Chattanooga where Mary Beth Roper grew up. Every conversation she overheard is heated, yet her banker-father was hesitant to reveal the facts. Will Tennessee secede and force them into a war? She was an adult and demanded he tell her the truth, yet she feared the heated politics she’d seen. Then she learned a rogue customer threatened their bank. Somehow, she must find a way to work with Peter Chandler, her father’s partner, even though she can’t bear to be near him. As she unraveled an impossible puzzle, she learned to value her faith.
Join the conversation: What do you do to get the most out of a passage of Scripture?