As Christians we are prone to use the Bible as a big stick (or in other words, a big 2×4). What do I mean by this? When we encounter someone who isn’t living wisely, it’s so easy to pick out a specific passage from the Bible to point out how this person is failing per the Bible’s standards. Metaphorically speaking, we use the Bible as a 2×4 to hit the person over the head so as to whip this person into action and to live morally.
I can be easily be misunderstood by saying this. I am not saying that the Bible should never be used to reveal another’s wrong paths and sins. In fact, I believe the Bible is the word of God given to us for teaching, admonishing, and correcting (in addition to encouraging, hope-giving, and directing). The Bible is in fact given as the perfect means for us to measure up and see how far we’ve deviated and failed. It points out our sins, failings, and brokenness. What I’m speaking out against is how we often go about using the Bible when employing it as a tool for correction.
Too often we use the Bible in such a negative way that people, whether Christians or not, are put off by the way we use it and not simply by the Bible itself. We fail to see that the Bible is described as lamp to my feet, honey to my mouth, or water to my parched mouth. All these conjure up images of people being refreshed, and they bring delight. Do we present the Bible in such a way, even when correcting others? When we parent our children, do we merely use the Bible to tell them how wrong they were? Is that the only time the Bible comes out of its bookcase? When we interact with people who are sharing their struggles, do we merely whip out the Bible to tell them how they’ve failed (which they already know!)?
I often think about 10-15 years from now when my kids are out of the house and are on their own. When they look back to their growing-up years, what kind of images, ideas, and impressions would they have about God and His Word? Would they have a distaste in their mouths at the mere thought of the Bible? Would the most prominent metaphor they have for God’s precious Word — described honey, water, lamp, treasure, etc. in the Psalms — be that of a big 2×4? Would they simply think Scripture as “what Mom and Dad busted out to beat me down when I failed?” Or… would they look to Scripture as a source of not only reproof but refreshment; not only correction but hope; not only instruction but inspiration?
I believe our children’s evaluation of the Bible will be largely influenced by us, their parents. We have so much influence over their lives and we need to be careful how we present the Bible in our daily lives. When we use the Bible as a moral code, we missed the gospel (and it’s usually not far from a reality that we ourselves have failed to see the Bible as little more than a moral instruction manual). We need to exhibit grace, long-suffering, and patience towards our children, friends, co-workers, and neighbors. After all, the one who died for us had already shown us grace and mercy. There is really no room for arrogance and self-righteousness. The gospel is sweet and is good news. Let us not “beat” someone with it. Let us show them the sweetness of it.