Do you remember the childhood game of Telephone? One person would say something, could be a phrase or a joke or possibly an abstract sentence and they would whisper it in the ear to a person, who would then whisper it in the ear of another person, and down a line of people. When the last person hears the phrase or whatever it was that was whispered, they say it out loud. I would venture that 99% of the time, it was NOT the same as what the first person said.
We would crack up that this sentence could get so muddled over a short period of time and yet in ways not always understandable to us, we do this often throughout our days and lives.
How often when you are in a conversation with someone, that they say something and you completely misinterpret what they mean?
Or if there is more than two people in a conversation, there can be multiple versions of what was said.
This seems to happen frequently in my marriage or with my children; I will say something and they will take it in a way that it was not meant. Communication skill takes quite a bit of effort and we often don't speak what we intended to say.
Why is that? Why do we hear things differently? Is it because as we listen, we are trying to conjure up a response? Why do we have two ears and one mouth, and we tend to use our mouth more than our ears? Often I am so guilty of this.
Having been an RN for 31 years, I often would tell patients to have someone with them when a doctor is talking to them, because too often, as in the case of a cancer diagnosis, you HEAR the word
"cancer" and your mind tunes out and you become so quiet because all you hear is cancer, and your mind goes in overdrive. To have a family member or friend present, who will take notes, so that nothing is missed is invaluable.
How often do we read God's Word to us and misinterpret it? His Word is most often the way God talks to us. I have read the Bible through each year for so many years but how many times do I read something and think to myself: "wow, I have never seen this before". And I know I have read it because I read the Bible each year, but this time a word or sentence or paragraph leaps out of the page and touches my heart and mind.
How often do we disagree on the Bible's interpretation? Churches have split, people have left their faith because of something they heard. The biggest example of that today is the LGBTQ issue. Many have attempted to discern what God is saying and there are two huge differences of opinion. This post is not about that, it just is such a prevalent topic nowadays and ways we interpret what we read that God says.
But do WE REALLY SEEK TO HEAR WHAT GOD IS SAYING TO US?
Genesis 3 is the familiar story of the account of the first sin on our earth. God had told Adam and Eve not to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil but that they may eat of any other tree. He also instructed them that if they ate it "they would die".
Along comes the devil, disguised as a serpent, and described as "more crafty than any of the wild animals God had made". And he questions Eve by saying:
"Did God really say, "you must not eat from any tree in the garden?'
Eve responded by saying:"We may eat from any tree in the
garden, but GOD did say "You must not eat fruit from the tree
that is in the middle of the garden and you must not touch it or
you will die."
Right then and there is the first communication misinterpretation in our world. God specifically mentioned the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. And He never said anything about not touching the tree.
So Satan, the enemy of God, being so crafty asks the question: "Did God really say?". His tactic to make her question what God said, was unfortunately for all of us, a tactic that worked. The serpent then proceeds to tell Eve that surely she would not die, because if she ate the fruit, her eyes would be opened, "and you will be like God, knowing good and evil".
Most of us know what happened next. Eve ate the fruit and then gave some of it to Adam.
"Then the eyes of both of them were opened and they realized
they were naked,...and made coverings for themselves."
How wonderful it must have been not knowing you were naked, and having no shame in that.
How often are we lured by satan's lies of "Did God really say?"
We won't know what God has said if we don't spend time reading His words to us. How can we know what God is saying if we aren't in the Bible? How often do we misinterpret the Word of God because we want to believe it says what we want it to say?
Again I bring up the LGBTQ issue. I have searched mightily for God's answer on what He means. I have read commentaries and many books. I have looked up words in the original Hebrew or Greek. I have prayed and prayed that God would show me His truth. What I have come up with is that God wants me to love ALL of His children, regardless of race, sex, sexual preference. Is it OK for gay people to be married in God's eyes? I don't know. For some reasons known only to God, He has not chosen to reveal to me what His answer to that question is. I know both sides of how people feel, but do I know God's thoughts? I know some of them but do I have His final say? I do not. And I am not sure any of us do, although many seem to think they do.
Being in my mid-sixties and having followed Jesus for 46 years, I still know I have barely scratched the surface of knowing God completely. But what I do know is that the most reliable way for me to hear His thoughts and words the majority of the time, is to be in His Word-reading the Bible daily if at all possible.
Because if His enemy (and ours) tries to trip me up by saying :
" did God really say?", I want to go to His Word to see what He really said. I know I may interpret it wrong in my mind and heart, that is why I begin each time of reading the bible praying:
" Guide me in your truth LORD and teach me" (from Ps 25:5) and
"Open my eyes LORD that I may see the wonder and beauty of your law" (Ps 119:18).
I continually ask God to reveal His truth to me and I hope that you will to. We need to hear what God says and not others view of what He says.