We naturally love some verses more than others, and often we turn that special devotion to some verses into a complete neglect of the other verses in the Bible. We love verses that comfort, encourage, build up, and grow us, but we don’t like the convicting verses that much. We love verses that speak about what we’ve been thinking about, and we skip over verses that don’t prick our interest. Or, maybe it is those verses that hit a little too close to our private lives that are quickly glanced over on our way to verses that talk about other people’s sins. Other times we are so comfortable with our Christian traditions that we smile and nod through all the Bible verses – even the uncomfortable ones – because we think we know them, and are OK. Until a preacher comes by and preaches those verses with such clarity and conviction that you shrivel up in your seat. Then you hope that the fellowship time after the sermon will be about the weather only, since your mind is still reeling between the desire to pour out your whole heart to the first Christian who cares and the desire to move on as though nothing happened.
It happens: we pick and choose our verses – even without realising it at times. It produces in us a sense of superior satisfaction with what we know, never realising our true need to fall in love with the other verses in the Bible too.
We all need the Bible – and we need all of the Bible. Our spirituality is ultimately defined by our acceptance of every word from the mouth of God. Salvation and true spirituality is not based on what your favourite verses are. True spirituality is not measured by the verses that are underlined in your Bible. Salvation is not proven by sending Bible messages to your family and friends. Godliness is not defined by how good your traditions are.
In Luke chapter 11, Jesus pronounces a whole wagon load of woes on the selective Bible knowers of His day. One of the most striking of those woes comes in Luke 11:42
“But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and every herb, and neglect justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.”
It is good to have verses that you cherish. But you cannot cherish some verses to the neglect of others. You cannot love the Psalms so much that you don’t read the letters of Paul. You cannot love some obscure verse in the Prophets at the expense of obeying the clear commands in the book of James. You cannot love verses of prosperity and overlook verses of justice and righteousness. You cannot think yourself a Christian if you will not bow the knee to every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.
Rightly did Augustine say,
If you believe what you like in the Gospel, and reject what you don’t like, then it is not the Gospel you believe, but yourself.