Have you ever thought about the results of our biases? While reading in Proverbs this morning, I came to the realization that my inherent perception of life affects how I read and understand Scripture. I want to illustrate this through an example most of us can relate to—we think a lot about money, and this affects how we interpret the Bible.
Americans tend to be very hardworking people, in both positive and less positive ways. For instance, we tend to spend a lot, play a lot, and engage in numerous pursuits that are detrimental to us; on a positive note, however, we work a lot as well. I was 15 when I started working legally. I would ride my bike 9 miles to work at the Dairy Queen in the rural town of Cornelia, Georgia. However, I believe I was 10 when I received my first payment for labor—I stacked hay in a barn loft for the farmer living next to us. Think about it, most of us had just over a decade of life before we gradually entered the workforce. Once we entered the workforce, many of us continued to work more and more because we learned more work means more pay, and…. the more we make the more we get to spend.
So, what bearing does this have on us? I believe our cultural upbringing impacts the way we read (interpret) the word of God and what we get from it.
For example, Proverbs 24:33-34 states, “A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man.” While reading this, I found myself thinking about the effort and diligence I extend in my vocation. However, as I evaluated the effort I place within my vocation, I came to the realization that the Bible is more concerned with my soul than my flesh. True this verse implies that we should work hard for a living; on the other hand, the meta-narrative of the Bible forces us to look at the Lord, His redemptive work, and His invitation to us to enter into a life-altering relationship with Him. As I contemplated this, I believe the Holy Spirit guided my thoughts to assess where I am demonstrating laziness, complacency, and apathy in my pursuit of God.
Think about it, it is much easier for us to motivate ourselves towards vocational hard work because it immediately rewards us with the finances that allow us to enjoy the pleasures of this life. However, the Scripture always points us to our relationship with God.
1st Peter 1:13 tells us to prepare our minds for action, to be sober-minded, and to set our hope fully on the grace that God gives us through Jesus Christ. This is far more intense, requires far more effort, and has far greater eternal impact than just motivating ourselves to work a little harder in our vocations. Herein lies the rub… I tend to lessen what the Scripture says because of how I am conditioned to think from my upbringing. As hard-working Americans, we are taught to go make something of ourselves. Go to college, get a job, get promoted, lead the company, build a nest-egg, retire early, and live high on the hog. On the other hand, the Scripture commands us to forgo the passions of this life and seek the Lord (1st Peter 1:14). God wants us to work hard in knowing Him—not building a secure life in a world that is passing away!
This brings us to a couple questions we need to ask ourselves:
How Can I Respond?
Christianity is a response to God’s invitation into a proper relationship with Him. The question we must ask ourselves is are we responding properly. I hope this encourages you to spend time asking God to help you enjoy His presence and the wondrous love of our God today.