Have you ever had the experience of coming across a text or set of texts that you didnít understand, or found difficult to harmonize with other texts or reality in general? Itís hard to imagine that at some time or another you havenít faced this problem. The question is, How did you respond? Or, even more important, How should you respond?
Read 1 Chronicles 29:17, Proverbs 2:7, 1 Timothy 4:16. What are these texts saying that can apply to the question of how we deal with difficult passages?
Only when we are honest can we face difficulties adequately. Honesty safeguards us so that we do not evade any difficulties or try to obscure them. Honesty will also restrain us from giving superficial answers that do not really bear the test of scrutiny. God is pleased with honesty and integrity. Therefore, we should emulate His character in all we do, even in our study of the Bible.
Honest people will deal with Bible difficulties in such a way that they are careful not to present information out of context, distort the truth with loaded language, or mislead others by means of manipulating evidence. It is far better to wait for a sustainable answer for a difficulty than to attempt to provide an evasive or unsatisfactory solution. A positive side-effect of being honest in our Bible study is that it builds trust, and trust is at the core of all healthy personal relationships. It convinces people much more than flimsy answers. It is better to say that you just donít know how to answer the question or accurately explain the text, than to try to make it say what you want it to say when, perhaps, it really doesnít.
Careful people earnestly want to know the truth of Godís Word and, therefore, consistently make sure that they do not rush to hasty conclusions that are based on limited knowledge or flimsy evidence. Careful people are determined not to overlook any aspect or detail that could be important. They are not hurried in their thinking but thorough and diligent in their study of the Word of God and all related information.
What do you do, or what should you do, with texts that you donít fully understand or that donít seem to fit with your understanding of truth?