‘Hotly Pursue’

We live in a time when we are quick to assume and quick to judge. We live in a society where if we were wronged, we have to get back or get even with the one who wronged us.

And sometimes, what we think happened to us or who we think hurt us, didn’t happen. We get so focused on the fact that we were wronged and that we have to get back, that we forget to stop and breath and actually figure out what happened.

I read a verse yesterday that made me think about these issues. “And Jacob was wroth, and chode with Laban: and Jacob answered and said to Laban, What is my trespass? what is my sin, that thou hast so hotly pursued after me?” Genesis 31:36

This is the story of Jacob leaving Laban after working for him for many years. As they were leaving, Jacob’s wife, Rachel, took some of her father’s images with her. Once Laban found out, he was upset as he thought that Jacob was trying to steal from him and leave as quickly as he could. Laban pursued after Jacob, made his accusation, and searched Jacob’s camp but couldn’t find his images anywhere. Now, if you know the story, Rachel had hid them in the camel’s furniture and was sitting on them when Laban was looking. But as far as Jacob and Laban knew at this point, there were no images in Jacob’s possession.

Laban had chased after Jacob because he was angry. Jacob then became angry with Laban because he was falsely accused.

This sounds like the majority of Christians today, we are always thinking someone wronged us or is trying to hurt us. When we get to feeling this way, we do what Laban did and “hotly pursue” after that person to get back at them.

What happens when you ‘hotly pursue’ someone to get back or get even with them?

The first thing I notice is that you leave someone behind. When you are worried about getting even, you forget the effect it has on your family and those close to you. Laban left his house to go pursue after Jacob, he left his family and those in his care behind while he went and tried to get even.

The second thing I notice is that you leave your work behind. Laban had a household that he had to run and he left his work and making sure that the job gets down to go find Jacob. In life, when we focus on getting even and trying to get back at someone, we forget what our job is and what we should be really doing in life.

The third thing I notice is that when you ‘hotly pursue’ someone to get back at them, you may be the one who ends up looking like a fool. Laban ‘hotly pursued’ and it ended up backfiring on him. He was the one who caused a big scene and had nothing to show for it. When you try to get back or get even with someone, you may be the one who is ashamed of what had happened.

The moral of this lesson today is this, ask yourself is what that person did to me really worth my time? Do I need to go get even with them? Or should I just continue on doing what I am supposed to be doing and leave it at that?

If you retaliate, you are in the same position they are. In life, in the Christian life, someone may hurt you, someone my offend you, someone may wrong you, but don’t let it stop you from serving God!

It is not worth your time and effort to get back at someone for something they did to you. You will be better off if you continue to serve the Lord and work on being a better Christian!

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Rightly Dividing Or Wrongly Distorting

In II Timothy, Paul was writing to TImothy who was a young preacher. He is finishing up his second letter to Timothy with a chapter of exhortation, a chapter encouraging Timothy to continue in the faith, to continue serving God.

Paul starts the chapter with telling Timothy to be strong and to endure hardness as a good soldier. He is encouraging Timothy that times will come when it will be hard, but keep on going.

At the end of the chapter, we see Paul telling Timothy to be mature in his walk and in his service. Timothy is told to flee youthful lusts, avoid foolish questions and be willing to be taught.

In the middle though is a verse that is good for every preacher, it is good for every Christian. It is a verse that acquires work to be successful in what it says. It is a verse that also shows that if you don’t follow it, you will be ashamed.

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

II Timothy 2:15

Study – state of contemplation, an application of the mental facilities to the acquisition of knowledge.

Approved – to have or express favorable opinion.

Ashamed – feeling shame, guilt, or disgrace; feeling inferior or unworthy.

We see Paul refer to Timothy as workman. We then see the workman’s tool at the end of the verse, the Word of Truth, the Word of God.

We see the exhortation of study! Contemplate, apply you mind to acquire knowledge from the Word of God.

We see the goal of studying, approved unto God. Paul didn’t tell Timothy to study to be approved by man but by God. When we focus on what man thinks, we won’t study and learn the Word like we should.

We see the warning of the lack of studying, ashamed. Why would he be ashamed? Because he would be lacking in knowledge of what God wanted him to learn and to share with others.

What does the phrase ‘rightly dividing’ mean? I looked up the definition of divide and it means to separate into two or more parts, areas, or groups. So why would Paul say to separate the Bible? When studying, you can find exact meanings of words and phrases when you break them down to the most basic level. You can gain a better understanding of words and phrases when you know what every part means and how it applies to the Christian life.

One of the biggest things that a preacher or anyone who use the Bible in anyway is making sure not to take a verse out of context, especially when trying to make the Bible fit their opinion, instead of making their opinion fit the Bible. It is easy to make the Bible fit what you have to say instead of making what you say fit the Bible.

Everything in the Bible is in there on purpose. Nothing is missing, nothing needs to be added. Every word has a purpose. That is why we as Christians should study and study, to make sure our life matches up with the Word of God.

The lack of study mentioned in II Peter 3:16-17 “As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness.”

There is so much in these two verses! Peter was writing to the beloved, to those who were saved, to the Christians. In these verses, he mentions that there are some things that are hard to understand in the Bible, yet there are those that wrest those hard things and also the other scriptures. Wrest means distort the meaning or interpretation of (something) to suit one’s own interests or views. People wrest or distort the Scriptures, whether the easy things or the hard things, to fit their own views.

As I was reading these verses, I could see why and how someone could distort the hard things of the Scriptures, especially those who didn’t study the Word and those that were unstable in the Christian life already. But then he mentions they wrest the other scriptures also, the easy things to understand. When they do this, they do it to their own destruction. You can only distort the Bible so much into your way and view before it catches up to you.

The next thing in these verses is Peter telling the Christians to be careful of these people that distort the Scriptures. These people will try to make you agree with them and see their way and views of the Bible. The Bible calls these people wicked as they lead people away from the truth of God. He ends the verse with the warning that you can fall from your steadfastness of holding the Scriptures. Many great Christians, with strong standards and beliefs have fallen because of the distorted view of someone they let influence them.

In churches today, we have many people taking the Bible and fitting it to their lifestyles instead of fitting their lifestyle to the Bible. Our opinions, our thoughts, our preferences should match the Word of God. If the Bible says it is wrong, it is wrong. If the Bible says it is right, it is right. There is no gray area with God.

You have to choose that whenever you use the Bible in anyway, whether through preaching, talking to someone else, writing a blog like this, or using it anywhere; you have to decide whether you want to rightly divide or wrongly distort what it says. The difference between the two is one is what God says and the other is what man thinks.

If I ever say or post anything that uses Scripture, I do my dead level best to make sure I rightly divide the Word of Truth and keep my opinion out of it. I do not want to wrongly distort, use the Scripture wrong and led someone to destruction.

I try to make it a habit that whenever I use Scripture in any posts and even in conversation with friends, to quote what it says verbatim from the Bible so that I do not put my own words in.

I can get into the subject of how every single word in the Bible is there for a purpose and just by using a different word can change the whole meaning of the verse or the chapter. Taking out a word or adding a word can distort the meaning of what God actually wanted us to know. Be careful that when using any Scripture, you are quoting and using it the way God intended it to be used, when you don’t you are wrongly distorting and could cause others to fall.

My standards, my beliefs, my convictions are all based off my own personal study of the Word of God. I decided long ago what I believe and I am still growing and learning and studying as I want my life to be pleasing unto God. When it comes to certain areas of life, I have no opinion on the matter, I have the Word of God.

Decide today that you will study the Word and rightly divide the truth to live a life approved unto God.

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