God speaks to us through sacred Scripture, but are we really listening? Do you read a Scripture passage and then pull out a phrase that fits your current circumstance in order to justify your actions? People are fond of misquoting the Bible for their own benefit. This happens all the time in commercials and shows.
Here are some examples.
“Money is the root of all evil.”
This passage is from 1 Timothy 6:10 titled “False Teaching and True Wealth.” It reads: “For the love of money is the root of all evils, and some people in their desire for it have strayed from the faith and have pierced themselves with many pains.”
Money is neither good nor bad, it all depends on our interior disposition toward it. Do you see money as a gift to be managed wisely and generously shared with others or is it a god that has first priority in your life? The misquoted phrase incorrectly suggests that we have no accountability regarding money, that money has some strange magical control over us. Money isn’t the problem, our attitude toward it is.
“Eat, drink and be merry.”
This is from Luke 12:19-21 titled “Parable of the Rich Fool,” which should give you some indication of how this will turn out. It reads “…and I shall say to myself, ‘Now as for you, you have so many good things stored up for many years, rest, eat, drink and be merry!’ But God said to him, ‘You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong? Thus will it be for the one who stores up treasure for himself but is not rich in what matters to God.’”
God wants us to be happy and enjoy the gifts we have been given. However, our gifts are not meant to be hoarded. We are not designed to be self-sufficient and live a life of comfort and luxury at the expense of others. Rather, we are called to radical generosity, trust in God’s providence, detachment from material goods and dependence on God.
“Man does not live on bread alone.”
This passage is from Deuteronomy 8:3 titled “God’s Care” and reads: “He therefore let you be afflicted with hunger, and then fed you with manna, a food unknown to you and your ancestors, so you might know that it is not by bread alone that people live, but by all the comes forth from the mouth of the Lord.”
Many use this line when dining on extravagant meals or when overeating borders on gluttony. On the surface, God wants us to enjoy good food and drink, but not at the expense of it becoming sinful. Going a little deeper, God cares for us by not only providing food for our body but more importantly, providing food for our soul. Whether wandering in the desert for 40 years or working to provide for your family, God is with us. We have to remember to open our hearts and invite Him in.
“The truth will set you free.”
This passage is from John 8:31-32 and reads: “Jesus then said to those Jews who believed in Him, ‘If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’”
Today, when the word “truth” is used, it is usually in reference to facts or figures to prove one side of an argument. Unfortunately, the “truth” is usually slanted by the source of those so-called facts and figures. Jesus’s truth was not about facts and figures, it is about a lifestyle. It is about being in relationship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Jesus is the vine and we are the branches. When we stay “connected” to Jesus we reflect His love, mercy and forgiveness. We experience joy and peace in our lives, regardless of our circumstances, and we bear good fruit. Sharing the Gospel message — sharing the truth — can put us in uncomfortable situations. However, as Catholics, we recognize that the truth matters. Eternal life with God is at stake for all of us.
During this Easter season, take time and read the Gospel every day. Read it slowly and deliberately. Read all the words. Listen to what God is saying to you. Simply put, if it doesn’t lead you to God, it is not from God.
Baranowski is the director of stewardship education in the Archdiocese of St. Louis. He and his wife are parishioners at Mary, Mother of the Church in south St. Louis County. He can be reached at (314) 792-7215 or [email protected].