The Text: Removing Assumptions

 |  February 19, 2020

Recently my family and I visited a local amusement center. Our youngest daughter invited a friend to join us. If observers of our family that day were to make assumptions, they might conclude that of the two little girls, the Caucasian one with the dark hair would surely be our daughter and the Chinese girl would be the friend. However, that would not be correct. While Lydia may look more similar to my wife and me since she is Caucasian with dark hair, the fact is Joylee, the Chinese girl with no similar physical features to her mother or me is, in fact, our daughter.

We must take caution that we do not make a similar error of assumption when we approach God’s Word. It is tempting to engage God’s Word with a bias based on years of personal as well as pastoral familiarity. And yet, each time we engage God’s Word we have the opportunity to encounter God Himself in a new and fresh encounter.

Assumptions can lead to sinful conclusions. When we come to the Word of God we must do so with open hearts, open heads, and open hands. We must meet God where He is making Himself known to us. There is no more significant means by which God consistently reveals Himself to us than through the text of His Word. We must guard against assumptions that can taint the truth of God’s Word and the message He intends for us to receive.

Assumptions cause us to miss all that the text has to offer. When we come to the text with a preconceived notion of what is being offered, we can miss the fullness of God’s message. We experience this in our personal devotional reading of God’s Word when we come across a passage we have read numerous times before but all of a sudden, in this reading, we discover something we have never seen before. It’s been there all along. Each and every time we have engaged with the selected text before the same words have been there but because we assume we know what it says, we can miss it.

Assumptions cause us to devalue the Word of God. When we assume we know what the text says, we are not as interested or inclined to look any further. This is especially dangerous for those of us who encounter the Word of God with the goal of proclaiming it clearly and accurately through our preaching.

We have to do the hard work each and every time we encounter the Word of God. God has spoken and we have ready access to His Word. We should eagerly engage the Word as often as we can. We should read the text in several translations. We must do the word studies in the original language. We need to wrestle with the fullness of the text, in context, and let the text dictate the meaning, the message and the mandate for action that God intends through His Word.

Rather than make assumptions about the text we need to eagerly engage the text of God’s Word. We have the privilege of interacting with God through His Word. We should never take that blessing for granted. Instead, we should build on what we know of God as revealed to us through His Word. Each and every time we read, study and proclaim the Word of God we have the opportunity to know God and to know ourselves better.

I have been guilty of making assumptions about people and families as I am sure others make about my daughter and our family. I also know that in those times when I have been able to engage with those same people and get to know them I have been made better for it. This is even truer—and more impactful—when I move beyond my assumptions about God’s Word.

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