“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15 NIV)
While on vacation 35 years ago, my husband and I arrived in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA. I was about to learn about the diversity of its people and its culture, especially its French beignet (ben-yay), likened to a doughnut pastry that is covered with confectioners powdered sugar.
My anticipation was high, because the beignet was said to be like a taste of heaven. While walking along the levee of the Mississippi River, we spotted a sign advertising what looked like one item: Catfish Beignets. I love fried catfish, but could not imagine something fishy in a French dessert. So, I quickly thought about how to order so that the waiter could understand me.
I said, “I would like a plain beignet. Hold the catfish.” By placing the emphasis on the word “plain”, I figured that they would know what I meant. Instead, I heard muffled laughter from the employees inside the small hut. I suspected that they knew that I wasn’t a local.
The server said, “We don’t have catfish beignets.”
After trying unsuccessfully to explain, I asked her to look at the menu sign. She did, and then by her expression, I could tell that she understood my confusion. There was no punctuation separating the two words that I had taken together at face value. She clarified by telling me that they did indeed have beignets and catfish, but not catfish beignets. After much good-humoured laughter and a little embarrassment, I received my plain, melt-in-your-mouth, no-catfish French Beignet.
In my part of the world, if something isn’t quite right, we say, “I smell something fishy,” or “There’s something fishy going on here.” Since my experience with the beignet, when I struggle with the meaning of Scripture, I don’t want something fishy going on there either, so I think, Lord, hold the catfish. No misunderstandings, please.
It is especially important to be careful when we approach God’s Word, since we don’t want anything misleading or false in our spiritual understanding. When I have questions, I go to the Father in prayer and ask for the Holy Spirit to fill my mind with the gospel truth and to guide me to a concordance, cross-references, commentaries, or our church elder or pastor who all strive to uphold the biblical perspective. I take notes from the meeting and study them later.
It is so very important for us who call ourselves Christians to know that the Bible is the absolute and enduring Word of God. His Word is true forever, and it does not change with time, circumstances, culture, or public opinion. We can always check philosophies and ideas against the Word of God. God’s Word is always the authority. The only way to correctly handle the Word of God is to know it, believe it, and live it to His honour and glory.
Prayer: Dear Lord, help us to read Your Word with proper discernment so that we don’t get wrong perceptions. We thank You for the Holy Spirit’s guidance to understand what we read. Give us a pure love and a desire to know and obey Your truth as written. Amen.
Copyright © 2021, by Karen Milam <[email protected]>, first published on the PresbyCan Daily Devotional presbycan.ca .
Penn Valley, California, USA