Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Oddball Verses

Every once in a while, you encounter a paragraph in scripture where one line doesn't seem to entirely fit. Every verse is about one topic, but another verse or sentence is about something else entirely.

Or is it?

For those of us who believe that the Bible is God's Word, we must affirm that the scripture is a coherent piece, and that the seemingly oddball verse is integral to the passage. (Actually, that's just common courtesy to believe of an even slightly competent author - knowing that scripture was written by men as carried along by the Holy Spirit (2 Pet 1:21) only solidifies it as an absolute.) The question to axe is not "what in the world is this doing where it doesn't belong?", but "how does this verse inform the meaning of the whole passage?"

An example of this is found in Romans 12:14-21. Here is the passage, minus the seemingly oddball verse 16.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep... Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Over and over again, this passage makes the same point from different angles: When people are evil to you, be good to them. Don't take revenge or do evil in return; trust God, and do good.

And what is verse 16, which doesn't seem at first to fit? "Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight." A call to humility and a warning about pride.

So here is where you come in, dear reader. How does verse 16 fit with the rest of the paragraph - actually, how does it form the foundation?

1 comment:

Robert said...

If you live in harmony with others then it will mean that you will not retaliate when they are evil to you.

If you and are not haughty, but associate with the lowly (talking spiritually here), then you will take the time to show the love of Jesus towards unbelievers and towards your enemies.

And if you are not wise in your own eyes, then you will count on Scripture for guidance and will not return evil for will pray for your will find ways to serve others (enemies included) and not focus on your own "felt needs". Now if you are wise in your own eyes and act on your own initiative, well, that is a whole other story...