It’s really hard not to be self-focused. For starters we live in such a self-absorbed culture. Everything we hear and see encourages us to put ourselves first. Then there are the day-to-day necessities involved in keeping ourselves alive and properly presentable.
So too often when we sit down with God’s Word, we bring the same self-focused attitude. See if any of these thoughts sound familiar:
- How can God’s Word help me in this situation?
- How can God’s Word encourage me today?
- How can God’s Word make me feel better about myself?
- What guidance can God’s Word give me today?
I’ve been reading “Women of the Word” by Jen Wilkin. In the first chapter, she writes about several ways we wrongly approach Bible study. Here’s a collection of quotes from her first section “Let the Bible Speak of God:”
“From beginning to end, the Bible is a book about God… We must read and study the Bible with our ears trained on hearing God’s declaration of Himself… The Bible does tell us who we are and what we should do, but it does so through the lens of who God is… If our reading of the Bible focuses our eyes on anyone other than God, we have gotten backwards the transformation process. Any study of the Bible that seeks to establish our identity without first proclaiming God’s identity will render partial and limited help.”
Did this hit you like it hit me? While intellectually I know that the Bible is about God – and not me – I still had to admit that I often think about me first when I go to God’s Word.
I’ve been working to purposefully think of God first and foremost when I open the Bible. So, when I read I familiar passage the other day, I saw it in a different light:
“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10, NIV
In the past, when I read this verse, I focused on the idea that I am God’s poem, His beautiful handiwork. And while that’s true, God should be the primary focus.
To emphasize this point, let’s take a step back and read this verse in its larger context:
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
God has miraculously saved us by His grace. Our salvation is His work from beginning to end. Since we cannot do anything to save ourselves, there is no room for pride. We cannot boast about our accomplishments. God is the One who has done it.
Yet, we get to verse 10, and we make it about us.
Read verse 10 again, out loud this time. Once with the emphasis on the word “handiwork” and once again, with the emphasis where it should be:
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
We are saved only because of His gracious work on our behalf. We are who we are only because God has created us anew.
No room for pride. No cause for boasting. Only praise and thanksgiving.
Did your out loud reading give you a new perspective on Ephesians 2:10? If so, how?