I hear it *all* the time.
Well-meaning women say things to one another, trying to be helpful and encouraging, thinking that what they are saying to each other is a biblical truth, when, in fact, it is not. “God helps those who help themselves” (Ben Franklin). “God never gives us more than we can handle” (a gross misunderstanding and misquoting of I Corinthians 10:13). “Nothing is impossible with God” (okay, is that really what the Bible means?).
I always want to respond with, “Really? Does the Bible really say that?”
What are we to do, if we want to be women after God’s own heart (there’s another phrase so casually tossed about)? In Acts 17, we are introduced to a group of people known as the Bereans. They were well loved by Paul for a very specific reason: “Now they were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11).
The Bereans received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so. And this, right there, tells us, as Christian women, how we can best be women who follow after God.
The Bereans were open to hearing the Word of God. Paul, the apostle Paul, had come to preach about Jesus. He and Silas went straight into the synagogue and began preaching about Jesus to the Jews (the people of Berea), and they listened. We must be willing to listen to people when they teach us the Word. And they received Paul with great eagerness – they were excited to hear what Paul had to say. These people did not go grudgingly to the synagogue; the people of Berea went immediately to hear Paul and Silas. How often do you and I get up on Sunday morning with a song in our hearts, lite on our feet, and happiness on our faces because we get to go hear the Word of God preached to us? Probably not as often as we would like to admit.
Next, the Bereans examined the Scriptures daily. In the context of Acts, the “Scriptures” being referred to here would be the Old Testament. The Bereans were hearing Paul tell the incredible story of Jesus Christ being the fulfillment of the prophecies, making Him the long awaited Messiah. Either Paul was telling the Truth, or he was stark raving insane. By studying the Scriptures, they were able to determine that Paul was telling them the Truth. We have the advantage of having the entire canon of Scripture: both the Old and New Testaments. We can look through the whole Bible to determine if something aligns with the Word of God, or if it is a lie.
Finally, the Bereans examined the Scriptures daily in order to see whether or not these things were so. The Bereans did not just swallow up everything Paul said; they laid out every word Paul said next to the Word of God to see if it was True or not.
This is what we, as women of God, need to do:
receive the Word, study our Bible daily, and lay out everything we hear next to Scripture to see if it lines up.
But how do we do that in our crazy busy world?
First, read your Bible every day. You (I) should be reading your (my) Bible every single day. Did you start out the year with a reading plan and fall behind? I did! I am way far behind. I have missed days, purposely skipped days, and made the poor choice to do other things some days. But I can’t quit and give up, and neither can you. So it’s June – big deal! Pick up where you left off, and start again. Download an audio version of the NASB or 1984 NIV, and listen while you do chores or drive around running errands. Be in the Word every day. If you don’t have the foundation of Truth, nothing else I say today will matter.
And be in the real Word. Do not use a “Bible study”. Read the Bible. Use a solid translation of Scripture: the New American Standard, the 1984 NIV, the ESV, the HCSB. Stay away from the NLT, the Message, the Voice – anything marked as a paraphrase, or published after roughly 2001. Go ahead and leave me your comments, but I have read all the version of the Scriptures you’re going to mention, and I’m telling you, the ones closest to original language and intent are the ones listed above.
Second, be very careful and discerning from whom you receive the Word. There are oodles and oodles of false teachers out there – especially for women. We are warned in II Timothy 4:3 “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires.”
That time has come. I would hazard a guess that greater than 70% of popular women’s teachers these days fall into the category of false teacher, and they are not teaching sound doctrine, but are teaching things that scratching ears want to hear. The cute memes and pretty pictures with uplifting quotes I see on Facebook every single day are from such “Bible” teachers. The pictures are pretty, and the quotes are uplifting, but they are completely unbiblical at best, and anti-biblical at worst. Be exceptionally careful who you let teach you the Word of God. Again, your best bet is to avoid books about the Bible and read the actual Bible instead!
And finally, lay out every teaching you hear next to actual Scripture to determine what is true. Do this with what I write, do this with what your preacher says, do this with every single thing you see or hear claimed as truth. Get a good study Bible, a concordance, or use blueletterbible.org, and learn to cross-reference, do word studies, read in context, and study commentaries. If you hear or see someone use one verse to prove a point, read the entire chapter or the entire book to see if the verse was yanked out of context (here’s a recent example). Take an inductive Bible study (yes, even though I said don’t use a Bible study, one that actually inductively studies the Word is an exception!) and learn how to approach God’s Word.
Dear Sister, you have been empowered by the Holy Spirit to study Scripture on your own. I promise you don’t need the latest and greatest study by whoever is most popular today. Be like the Bereans: test everything, flee from the false teachers, and learn. Read your Bible, pray, and God will show you what you need to know the Truth!