1. I blindly followed people’s advice to “use this version of the Bible because it’s the only right one.” That’s why years ago I started out with the KJV, later switched to the ASV (1901), and then to the NASB. However, language and translation, any language and any translation, are just not such simple matters. If someone ever tells you such and such Bible version is “the only right one,” they’ve given you the wrong advice for they’ve handicapped you by limiting the number of tools available to you. Such limiting advice is about as helpful as telling a fisherman they mustn’t ever fish with anything except topwater lures or telling a cook they can only prepare chicken. I enthusiastically use the Common English Bible daily and heartily recommend it to others, but I’d never claim it is “the only right one” to use or that anyone should use only it. I know the CEB’s translators would say the same. Put it in your toolbox … and use it along with other good tools.
2. I simply accepted what I was told a passage meant without researching the matter myself. I assumed good men and women of long-time faith knew what they were talking about. What I failed to factor in was the fact that we’re all human, no matter how learned, experienced, or sincere. Photocopiers were made to copy; disciples are meant to think. Faith is a journey and thinking is required. The way you’re being led to believe may or may not be right so ever trust, but verify.
3. I decided to not memorize Scripture, but to remember Scripture references instead. My simple-minded reasoning went like this: “If I want to know where something is, I’ll always know where to quickly find it.” The problems with that faulty logic are too numerous to mention, but let me just say here that while recalling references can help you prepare lessons, they won’t feed your mind, reform your life, or sustain your spirit. We need the mind of Christ, not a Google brain. How I wish I had memorized so much more of Scripture in my younger years!
4. I treated Scripture as if the lay of the land of Scripture was flat; as if every word was of equal importance. But the topography of Scripture isn’t flat. There are mountains, steppes, plains, valleys, lakes, rivers, deserts, fields, and more. While all Scripture is Scripture, not all Scripture is created equal nor is it all equally essential to me at any given time in my life. There is a supreme commandment, a second commandment, etc. I’ve done my share of “majoring in minors” and would pray that any and all would avoid falling into that man-made pit.
5. I tried to use Scripture to prove what I wanted to believe. Mind you, I didn’t do that with premeditation, it was simply a logical second step to a preceding problem (blindly accepting what I was told by others). If what I’ve been taught is undeniable, then those undeniable truths become the lenses through which I read Scripture. This is no small thing. You can only see what you see through the lens you wear. It’s one thing to use Scripture to prove what you believe and altogether another to believe Scripture and let it have its way with you and your beliefs, come what may. The former leads you away from God; the latter leads you to him.
6. I left reading my Bible to times I felt like it or felt like I had time for such. In the moments, or even seasons, of such, I would have been adamant that I had no real choice. However, looking back I can see such was simply attempts to justify my lack of self-discipline and my ability to procrastinate on even important matters. Feeding on God’s will is more important than eating is to feed your body. You don’t let your feelings or the clock be your sole determiners of your eating habits so plow through your moods and value listening to God more than emotions or your self-made life schedule.
7. I read my Bible for the sake of others, but not for myself. That is, I spent abundant time with the word of God, but did so for the sake of instructing others. I allowed the paramount importance of spending time in the word “just for me” to be crowded out by good, but lesser things. You can’t really share what you don’t really have yourself so time in the word for yourself isn’t just what’s best for you, but is actually what is best for others.
8. I agreed with Scripture, but I didn’t put it into practice. I became content to understand the teaching of Scripture and to teach such to others, rather than let Scripture teach me and then personally determine to live it out myself first. At best, this is self-deceiving; at worst it’s hypocrisy. If I know what is good, but do not do it, it is sin to me. Even rocks do the Father’s will so I mustn’t trick myself into living as dumb as dirt by not attempting to do what I know pleases my Father.
Question: What are some of the worst mistakes you’ve ever made in regard to how you’ve used your Bible?