Pierce Taylor Hibbs

Love Cannot be “This” for “That”

God didn’t need anything from us, and yet he gave everything for us. Why? I. Don’t. Know. There’s no rationality to it. The gospel transcends reason. It blossoms high up in the ether of divine-human relationship. It draws us to worship, not to weigh and measure. True love can never be “this” for “that.” There is no transaction in true love, no giving for taking. All palms are always open. 

I was reading through a book manuscript the other day, and it was making me think of a previous article I wrote about Job (“Job and the Deadly Spiritual Equation”). The author of this manuscript made a point that, while I already knew it conceptually, still drew me into wonder. Here it is, in my own words: True love must be able to offer everything in exchange for nothing.
Stare at those words. Your impulse might be to agree with the statement immediately. But let the silt in your mind settle for a moment. Examine yourself in the context of one concrete relationship. How often do you act in self-interest with the guise of love? How many times do you do something for someone else without expecting to receive anything in return—no reciprocation, no delayed gratification, no ego stroke, no thanks? Can you show love to someone and at the same time be at peace with invisibility?
Relationships vs. Transactions
When we’re honest with ourselves, most acts of “love” are done with some hope, if not an outright expectation, of reciprocation. We may not think that the person we buy coffee for will return the favor, but we’ll at least get a “thank you,” right? I mean, that’s just common courtesy.
This approach to love is transactional. It sounds cold when we put it that way, as if expecting a “thank you” from someone is selfish and mechanistic on our part. I’m aware that we have social norms and that there is such a thing as common courtesy. That’s not really the question here. The question is whether love can be true if we feel slighted or jilted when we don’t receive some form of reciprocation, even a “thank you.” As I’ll suggest in a moment, I don’t think it can be true if that’s the case.
When our approach to love is what we might call relational (I elsewhere call this circular), our love serves a relationship, but that doesn’t necessitate reciprocity. True love is wanting the best for someone regardless of your involvement. In the context of your relationship with another, love says, “I want you to have this.” And here’s the key: The beloved may not even hear your voice or give ample recognition to your love. And that’s okay. You loved for their sake, not for yours. You love because, in your relationship, you want this person to go higher, and you’re content if that means you go lower, or go unnoticed altogether. Love is not love if it’s quid pro quo.
Job and God’s Love
Now, back to Job. This transactional vs. relational view of love is really at the heart of the book. In fact, it’s right at the beginning where Satan starts bad-mouthing this man whom God said was above reproach. Satan attacks Job twice. First he takes his property and family. Then he takes his health. What was his motive in both cases? To show that Job was really a transactional God-worshiper. Look at his two attacks.
9 Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “Does Job fear God for no reason? 10 Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. 11 But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.”
Job 1:9-11
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Job and the Deadly Spiritual Equation

Jesus dealt Satan a deadly blow. The devil is mortally wounded, though even more deadly in his desperation. But he can do nothing (please hear this!) to disrupt the equation. He can’t press us with fear of punishment; Jesus took that on. He can’t shame us with a poor self-image; we are the image of Christ now. He can’t drive us mad with death-threats; Jesus destroyed the power of death. Satan has a front row seat every time the redemption equation is written on a human heart. And he can’t do a single thing about it.

Job is one of my favorite books of the Bible. That usually catches people by surprise. Why would a book about a holy man falling prey to Satanic torment be something you want to read? Despite the initial fear the book induces, it’s extremely comforting and relevant for our understanding of trauma and suffering. Job shows that the worst still leads to the best. And of the many ways in which the book is still relevant, there’s one that stands out to me because of how prevalent it is in our times. It’s what I call “the deadly spiritual equation.”
The Deadly Spiritual Equation
The deadly spiritual equation won’t sound so deadly, but if you follow through to the end of the article, you’ll see why it is. The equation has two sides, depicted below.

Doesn’t look so bad, does it? On one side, of course, Scripture teaches that moral living aligns with God’s commandments and character. And God loves to bless those who follow his commands. On the other side, immoral living never ultimately goes unpunished. God is just. So, on the surface, this deadly spiritual equation seems biblical. What’s the problem?
The problem is twofold: (1) the complexity of God’s providence goes well beyond us and includes our spiritual nemesis, and (2) what happens when suffering comes to the upright? The latter, of course, is what the book of Job is all about. God himself tells Satan and the heavenly hosts that Job is upright. According to the deadly spiritual equation, Job should only receive God’s providential blessing. And yet the whole book is about how Job doesn’t receive that. He receives torment at the hands of Satan; he receives what looks a lot like punishment to the rest of the world, even to his friends.
Job’s friends maintain the deadly spiritual equation with vigor. Job must have sinned. He must be wicked, because that’s how the spiritual equation works. God’s punishment (the horrendous suffering of Job) must be the result of immoral living. As readers of the book, we have an insider’s perspective. We know that Job is not being punished. We know that he’s righteous, by God’s own declaration. What are Job’s friends missing? And why is this spiritual equation “deadly”?
The Missing Elements
There are two things Job’s friends are, the same things missing from the spiritual equation: the presence of Satan and the underlying purpose of suffering in God’s world. Both of these elements are brought to the fore by Jesus Christ.
Isn’t it odd how Satan only appears at the beginning of the book of Job? He destroys Job’s life, drags his head down to the dust, and then he’s gone. This isn’t arbitrary (nothing in Scripture is). Why is Satan absent from the rest of the book? Why is he absent from all of the discussion among Job and his friends? Answer: the deadly spiritual equation. It has no place for Satan, for the personified presence of evil. Satan is not in the equation. And that’s a huge problem, since we know that Satan is the one responsible for all of Job’s torment! The cause of Job’s suffering, plain as day to readers, is not even on Job’s radar. Neither is it on his friends’. For all of them, the deadly spiritual equation is just that: deadly. It’s sucking the life out of them, out of their relationships. 
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‘The Gospel According to Satan’ by Jared Wilson

What I loved most about the book was Wilson’s commitment to biblical truth in the face of attractive ideas from our secular culture. The most potent lies are the ones that most resemble truth, and Satan knows this. He’s planted the lies we see in our culture, even in our Christian culture. When we believe them, we drift further from the faith. And that means we grow more confused about our identity, purpose, and our very approach to daily living. Lies open chasms that threaten to break us apart. The truth of Scripture builds our bridges.

Several books have come out recently that deal with Satan and his lies (see my review of John Mark Comer’s Live No Lies). There should be even more, since that’s the devil’s main strategy for assaulting God’s people. So, I was happy to work through Jared Wilson’s The Gospel according to Satan. As usual, he offers his casual, down-to-earth prose but scatters in plenty of profound insights. He works through eight of the popular lies that vie for our attention when it comes to the good news. Each one distorts or diminishes the real truth of who God is and what he’s done.

God just wants you to be happy.
You only live once.
You need to live your truth.
Your feelings are reality.
Your life is what you make it.
You need to let go and let God.
The cross is not about wrath.
God helps those who help themselves.

What I Loved
If you’ve read any of Wilson’s other books, you’ll know that he approaches theology with an eye on practical application. How do the ideas we have about God and the gospel actually affect our behavior, our daily grind, our thought life? Certainly, the eight lies listed above have a had a profound effect on our culture. Many of us are influenced by these ideas even when we’re not aware of it. I’ve written at length, for instance, about how feelings are not reality (in the context of anxiety), and yet I still battle that on a daily basis. So, while these eight lies might be easy to pass off as patently unbiblical, we need to read with humility. Wilson invites us to do that, even while critiquing these lies.
What I loved most about the book was Wilson’s commitment to biblical truth in the face of attractive ideas from our secular culture. The most potent lies are the ones that most resemble truth, and Satan knows this. He’s planted the lies we see in our culture, even in our Christian culture. When we believe them, we drift further from the faith. And that means we grow more confused about our identity, purpose, and our very approach to daily living. Lies open chasms that threaten to break us apart. The truth of Scripture builds our bridges.
Favorite Quotes
Lots of favorite quotes from this one, but here are some of my top ones.

“The devil would love for you to be perfectly happy, so long as you are not holy. He knows happily unholy people rob glory from God and go happily to hell” (p. 17).

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Billions of Unnoticed Gifts

Excessive giving reveals the unsearchable depths of God’s love, the bottomless well of his heart. Nothing is wasted simply because it isn’t noticed by us. Every gift is of value because every gift is an expression of eternal love. For you. For me. The extravagance Dillard speaks of, the extravagance that surrounds us, is the unceasing, unparalleled expression of God’s love. God is spendthrift because his love is eternal.

As I spoke recently with The Laymen’s Lounge about The Book of Giving, one point that kept coming up in our conversation was God’s prodigality (his being excessively lavish) in the good things he gives us. And what blows my mind is that the vast majority of God’s gifts go unnoticed. It’s one thing to be prodigal; it’s another to be prodigal anonymously; and it’s still another to be prodigal anonymously towards people who will miss most of your gifts. That seems like such a waste to us, doesn’t it? But there’s something deeper being revealed here.
Yesterday, the sunset that burned the underbellies of our gray-purple clouds with pink and gold, igniting them like clothes cast off from the ancient bodies of giants, drifting toward the orange horizon—how many people in our town never picked their head up to look at it? Some thousands. And yet the gift was still given. Or those two red-tailed hawks that circled just above our house, dancing with each other as if connected by a long, invisible rope—why was I the only one to see it? Or that fleeting sense of warm sunshine on my skin as I started my car—I barely paused to notice it. Why such excess, which appears to be wasted? Annie Dillard once wrote, “Beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them. The least we can do is try to be there” (Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, p. 10). But most of the time we aren’t there, or can’t be. Why does God still run the world this way?
I had to laugh when I read Dillard’s description of nature and the insects she finds in the wild.
Nature is, above all, profligate. Don’t believe them when they tell you how economical and thrifty nature is, whose leaves return to the soil. Wouldn’t it be cheaper to leave them on the tree in the first place? This deciduous business alone is a radical scheme, the brainchild of a deranged manic-depressive with limitless capital. Extravagance! Nature will try anything once. This is what the sign of the insects says. No form is too gruesome, no behavior too grotesque. If you’re dealing with organic compounds, then let them combine. If it works, if it quickens, set it clacking in the grass; there’s always room for one more; you ain’t so handsome yourself. This is a spendthrift economy; though nothing is lost, all is spent.
Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, p. 66
Why the extravagance? Why does God give us billions of gifts every second (even the chance to marvel at a myriad of strange insects) when most of us won’t end up seeing the majority of them? Why is God so spendthrift?
Prodigality and the Heart of God
We have to start answering all of our questions about God with the Creator-creature distinction. Our understanding of gifts isn’t his understanding. 
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What If Thoughts Can Be Evil?

The word of God isn’t just a conceptual comfort; it’s a cutting blade. It cuts through evil. When we’re struggling to fight a particular thought, we need to confront that thought with the power of the truth. If thoughts can be evil, then they can also be wise and righteous; they can be Christ-exalting.

One of the many telling lines in C. S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters is this one, from one devil to another, “It is funny how mortals always picture us as putting things into their minds: in reality our best work is done by keeping them out” (Letter 4). Keeping what out of our minds, exactly? Here’s one example: the idea that thoughts can be evil or demonic.
I realize in our contemporary secularized culture, where everything has been de-supernaturalized, that’s a lot to take in. “Aren’t thoughts just…thoughts? Synapses firing in the brain? You don’t have to go all medieval on something that has a perfectly grounded medical and scientific explanation.” I hear you. Really, I do.
What If
But what if that is exactly what demons want? Screwtape told his nephew that they do their “best work” by keeping things out of our heads, not putting things into them. What if they’ve been celebrating since the Enlightenment because people mostly assume that thought is a neutral, physiological phenomenon? What if Satan celebrates the fact that many Christians view their thought lives as neutral?
I’m reminded of a similar what-if that John Mark Comer draws out, as he builds on the work of Evagrius (a monk of the early church) in Live No Lies:
For Evagrius, logosmoi, or our thought patterns, are the primary vehicle of demonic attack upon our souls. That might sound far-fetched to our skeptical Western ears, but think about it: Have you ever had a thought (or feeling or desire) that seemed to have a will to it? An agenda that was hard to resist? And not thinking it felt like fighting gravity? It seemed to have a weight or power over you that was beyond your ability to resist?
Could it be that the thoughts that assault your mind’s peace aren’t just thoughts? Could it be that a dark, animating energy is behind them? A spiritual force?
Could it be that this is about more than mental hygiene or positive thinking; it’s about resistance?
John Mark Comer, Live No Lies, p. 86
“A dark, animating energy…” Yea. What if thoughts aren’t just synapses firing within the soft walls of our brain tissue? What if a thought could be weaponized? Would that change the way we walk through life each day?
I think it would. And doesn’t this make a bit more sense out of Paul’s call to spiritual warfare in Ephesians 6:12? We’re fighting against things that sound pretty abstract to 21st century Western ears: cosmic powers and spiritual forces of evil. And that’s not just a fraction of the enemy; that’s the enemy. Our war isn’t against “flesh and blood”; it’s against this.
What Makes a Thought Evil?
“Hold up,” says the well-rounded Christian skeptic (is that an oxymoron?). “How can you possibly link thoughts with these things?” Well, think about what our spiritual enemies do. Then think about what a thought can do. Satan and his servants want to do essentially three things. They want to take us…

Further from God. We only move in two different directions: either towards God or towards Satan. That’s it. There’s no neutral zone. Moving in God’s direction means moving deeper into relationship with him so that we start to resemble our creative, loving, generous, patient, self-giving Lord. Moving in Satan’s direction means becoming a black hole for all goodness. We become destructive, malevolent, hoarding, quick-tempered, self-seeking centers of chaos.
Deeper into doubt. If Satan can get you to doubt God and his promises, he’s already won the hardest part of the battle. Genesis 3 is a case in point. Doubting God’s goodness led immediately to breaking his law, which led to death and a kingdom of curses.
Lower into self-absorption. The devil’s aim is to bend our backs so much that we stare at ourselves for eternity. He wants each one of us to be as self-absorbed as possible, the practical center of our fantasy universe.

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Sin Is Death?

Sin isn’t just a series of errors or poor judgments with momentary consequences. Sin is taking you somewhere. It’s leading you down a path of decay, a path that ends in spiritual death.

Hyperbolic, isn’t it? “Sin is death” sounds like something you’d hear echoing from a bullhorn in a city that embraces noise as part of its culture. Philadelphia and New York come to mind (no offense, by the way; it’s just that I hail from a quiet fishing town in Canada). In the context of so much physical turmoil and death in our world, calling sin “death” seems almost offensive, as if we’re insulting people struggling with leukemia or COVID, the real death threats. How can we claim something so serious about a problem that seems more conceptual than physical?
It all depends on how you define life and death. What is life? If life is measured only in blood flow and heart beats, then “Sin is death” sounds ludicrous, like a misinformed battle cry of pre-modern street preachers. Sin might be a hindrance, a nuisance, or even a threat to moral flourishing in society at large, but death? Hardly.
But what if life has more to do with bonds than with blood? What is life is more deeply about a relationship than it is about our respiratory system? What is life is about an active (even if neglected or forgotten) bond of communion between us and the God whose breath gave us our breath? That would change our perspective on the whole “Sin is death” thing, wouldn’t it? And doesn’t Jesus refer to himself as the life (John 14:6)? Living would thus be a relationship with him, not a set of physical and mental animations.
And what is death? If it’s not just about the stillness of the body, the absence of animation, or the fading pulse beneath your skin, then what is it? Maybe if life is all about relationship, then death is really about the ending of that relationship, or at least the most dramatic change imaginable.
Sin as Death
Now, what struck me as I read Romans is just how direct Paul is in linking sin with death. He clearly views sin as more than a behavior problem that can be remedied by a pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps mentality. Sin is far more serious. Sin is lethal.
What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” 8 But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead. 9 I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. 10 The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. 11 For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me.Rom. 7:7-11
For Paul, sin kills. It brings death. This doesn’t mean that sin is an actual substance, some soul disease that spreads like wildfire. Sin is ethical, and it has no independent existence. It’s parasitic; it can’t exist on its own, so it follows around the good things of God’s creation and distorts them, deforming us in the process. As Bavinck put it in The Wonderful Works of God, sin is “a manifestation which is moral in character, operating in the ethical sphere.” Sin is moral and ethical. Yet, the fact that it’s moral and ethical doesn’t mean it’s not lethal. Paul’s language makes it clear that sin brings death. It destroys us.
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Reductionism: The Disease that Breeds Conflict

Reductionism is killing us because it’s killing our conversations. It’s killing open, receptive dialogue. It’s polarizing the nation, even the world. For our part, we have to start identifying and assaulting reductionism whenever it crops up in our conversations.

I hate conflict. And it’s not just a hatred that festers into frustration; it has bodily symptoms: a tightening throat, shortness of breath, increasing heart rate. I’m sure it’s related to my anxiety, but it appears to run deeper than that. It’s a Matthew 5:9 reaction, a visceral response to discord, a response that seems mysteriously rooted in the heart of God. I don’t know how else to explain it.
But this can make it tough to live in our world, since we have so very much conflict these days, over COVID and climate change, politics and personal freedom, meaning and morals. But beneath all that conflict, there’s a disease. It’s what we might call a mental disease: reductionism.
What’s Reductionism?
So, what is reductionism? It sounds like one of those academic terms that’s too abstract to be of any use. But that’s part of its danger. It’s quite simple to break down, but to do that, I need to tell you where it came from. Are you ready?
Satan. There. I said it. I’ll give you a minute.
Reductionism is the stepchild of our desire for mastery (complete control), which emerged from the ancient evil of autonomy, and autonomy comes from the heart of the father of lies (John 8), Satan. I realize I’m making things harder for myself by continuing to introduce terms that may not be widely understood. I’ll pause. Autonomy is “the idea that you are a law unto yourself.” In other words, it’s the idea that you’re completely and utterly independent. Here’s how John Frame puts it:
Sinners at heart do not want to live in God’s world, though they have no choice about it. They recognize the truth to some extent, because they need to get along and to make a living. But they would very much like the world to be different, and often they either try to make it different or pretend that it is. In the unbelieving fantasy world, the Lord of the Bible does not exist, and man is free to live by his own standards of truth and right. In a word, the unbeliever lives as if he were autonomous, subject only to his own law. Nobody can be really autonomous, because we are all subject to God’s control, authority, and presence. But we pretend that we are autonomous; we act as though we were autonomous, in the unbelieving fantasy world.John M. Frame, A History of Western Philosophy and Theology, p. 22
Satan, you’ll remember, wanted to be completely independent, like God. He wanted to be autonomous. And he convinced Adam and Eve that this was worth a shot in the dark. In fact, it ended up sending them into the dark. It sent them into a lie, because no one can be autonomous except God himself.
Now, if you’re trying to be God (despite the laughable futility of that), what do you want to do? You want to master your life. You want full control. The thing is, you can’t have that…you know, because you’re not God. You’re limited by nature. That’s how you and I were made. But we’re so stubborn that we don’t accept limitation. We refuse to think we can’t master our own lives. So, within what Frame calls the fantasy world of autonomy, we chase after mastery, and when we can’t get it (again, we never will get it), then we pretend to have it with…reductionism.
I promise we’re getting closer to the definition of reductionism now. If we can’t master our lives, then we can simplify them and make it seem as if we’re in full control. We can reduce the complexity of our own lives, the people in them, and the problems that surround us. We can take, in other words, an issue or person with a thousand dimensions and pretend that there’s only one dimension. That’s reductionism. Put differently by my friend and teacher, reductionism happens when people “reduce the world to one dimension of the whole…But reductionism is poverty-stricken, not only in its threadbare endpoint consisting of only one dimension, but also in its explanatory power” (Poythress, Redeeming Philosophy, p. 111).
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Christian, Here’s When You’re Allowed to Apply Scripture

Here are three simple steps, but they take time and effort. Understand the passage in its original context, understand how the passage fits into the biblical storyline and is fulfilled in the person and work of Christ, and apply the passage to yourself in your circumstances in a way that is faithful to steps 1 and 2.  And we’re not keen on spending time and effort on this. The tragedy is that this is causing great harm within the church. Christians are hurting other Christians because they don’t know how to interpret and apply Scripture faithfully. 

I know, it’s a strange title for an article, but it’s coming from a place of great concern, and the title expresses the sentiment I want to convey. I’ve had a growing frustration about something happening in the church. Let me put it bleakly: vast tracts of Christians don’t actually know how to apply Scripture in popular forms of argument and everyday conversations. They have Scripture memorized; they can quote chapter and verse numbers; they even have an accurate understanding of the central message of Scripture, but they don’t know how to apply it. They don’t know how to use it with faithfulness to what the text really means and how it’s been fulfilled in Christ.
Come to think of it, what I just said is gracious. It’s not that they don’t know how to apply it; it’s that they think they do, but they don’t. They’re confident and they’re ignorant. And that’s far more dangerous. When confidence marries ignorance, the offspring are hideous.
What’s the result? Miscommunication, polarization, and a horrendous witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ, not just outside the church but within it. To be “allowed” to apply Scripture, you have to understand its context. If you don’t, your interpretive privilege is revoked. I’ll say it again: If you don’t know the context for a passage of Scripture, you don’t get to apply it to a popular argument or casual conversation. You and I are allowed to apply to Scripture in an argument or conversation only if we know its context (more on that below) and can match that context to the area in question.
Why the Problem?
We’ll work through an example together, but before that, let’s think about why this is such a problem for contemporary Christians. My working theory has two forms, one less offensive and the other more offensive. Here’s the less offensive form: We live in a culture that encourages fragmentation and discards depth. Fragmentation means that our minds aren’t often putting together threads of coherent thought. Much of the time, we’re pigeons grabbing bread crumbs of information and entertainment. And that crumb-picking habit carries over into our understanding and application of Scripture. We’re not asking questions of a text, working through context in widening circles, or even using our God-given reason to reach understanding. Instead, we’re crumb-picking. We grab a friend’s complaint here, a Facebook comment there, and a Scripture passage we found through a Google search, and boom: we’ve got an “argument,” an arrow to shoot in conversation. And because we’re quoting Scripture, it appears to be biblical. But let’s be clear: Quoting a Bible verse doesn’t mean you’ve made a biblical argument. In fact, it doesn’t even reflect your faith. Satan, remember, dropped Scripture references more than once (see Matt. 4), and he’s pure evil.
Here’s the more offensive form of my working theory: We’re lazy. Looking up a biblical passage in its context, trying to prayerfully discern meaning within the biblical storyline and how the passage is fulfilled in Christ, takes work and time. And we don’t really want to give time to this. We just want to reinforce our perspective and pass off some judgment on “weaker” Christians before we grab our next cup of coffee. Again, what I’m claiming in this article is blunt: We don’t get to do that. We’re not allowed to apply Scripture to something without knowing where a passage is coming from, what its context is. We’re not given a free-pass on laziness just because we grew up in the church and are familiar with Scripture.
What Does Context Involve?
When I say “context,” I’m actually suggesting that you and I have a process for interpreting a passage of Scripture, what we call a hermeneutic. It doesn’t have to be fancy. A simple one is set out by Vern Poythress in God-Centered Biblical Interpretation (p. 116):

Understand the passage in its original context.
Understand how the passage fits into the biblical storyline and is fulfilled in the person and work of Christ.
Apply the passage to yourself in your circumstances in a way that is faithful to steps 1 and 2.

Three simple steps, but they take time and effort (see also chapter 4 in Poythress’s Reading the Word of God in the Presence of God). And we’re not keen on spending time and effort on this. The tragedy is that this is causing great harm within the church. Christians are hurting other Christians because they don’t know how to interpret and apply Scripture faithfully. Let’s flesh this out with an example.
An Example Passage
Take a text that’s often abused in our cultural moment: 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” How is the text abused? Since people “cherry pick” this verse and don’t understand what it means in context, they take it as a blanket statement that addresses human emotion in general. The popular usage might look something like this:
If you seem to be afraid of something, you’re not being a true Christian, since God has not given us the spirit of fear.
This has the harmful, unbiblical consequence of making people feel guilty for having feelings. It can encourage a form of Stoicism, a rejection of the place and weight of human emotion. In our cultural moment, I’ve seen Christians use this passage to bully other Christians. If another Christian appears (and I say “appears” intentionally, because we can’t see the motives and inner workings of others) to be afraid of something—Covid exposure, judgment of others, performance at work, physical illness, anxiety—that believer gets slapped in the face with 2 Timothy 1:7. 
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