Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Cheat Sheet

In my first year of college, I had the marvelous honor of taking Statistics. (-__-) Anyhow, as the weeks passed in the class, I had this "friend," which I spoke to whenever I was in class. Honestly, I don't even remember her name, but let's call her Jessica.

Things were going well. I was working hard in the class, trying to get an A. All went fairly agreeably until the first time I noticed that Jessica was cheating off of one of the big tests we had. Being the graciously graceful grace-man that I was, I tried to give her the benefit of the doubt. To gain some insight, here's a few of the thoughts that went through my mind.

1. Maybe she's not cheating on me. Maybe it just looks like her head is tilted towards my paper. Maybe.

2. I don't want to cover up my paper - that would basically be accusing her of a crime I'm not sure she's even committing!

3. Maybe I can just tilt the paper so she can't read my writing... oh wait, it's multiple choice.

4. I need to find out if she's legit copying off of my test. I'll just turn my head a little to find out if she actually is cheating. But would she really stoop to that level? I mean she doesn't study a lot, but she must have integrity!

5. I worked hard to do good on this test. If she's cheating, I'm going to punch her in the kidneys. That'll show her integrity.

Well, this mental battle continued until the test was over. When we got out, she gave me a hug and said if she gets a good grade, that it was because of me. That's about the time that I busted out the Falcon Punch.

Or so I wished. Anyhow, I wanted to make sure that it wouldn't happen again. By the time the next test rolled around, I had it all planned out. I was going to put my backpack on the table, (the teacher didn't care) thus blocking her vision of my test. 

When she got into class the day of the test, I already had my backpack on the table in prime hater-blocker position. When she sat down, she actually picked up my backpack and put it on the ground.

Two words: uh-uh.

I picked up that bag and slapped that sucker right back on the table while looking at her straight in the eye-holes. She looked at me and with wide, incredulous eyes, said, "Are you serious?" To which I responded with a simple, "Yup." Ain't no pretty girl cheatin' off my test! No way, Joe Say!

Anyways, the point? In perhaps one of the longest intros to anything I've written, I want to say that some of us are like that girl. How? One word: commentaries.

I honestly don't know how many people this actually applies to, but hear me out. Whenever I read the Bible, if I get to a part that I might not understand, my immediate temptation is to just glance down to the bottom of the page and look up what the commentary has to say about it. At this point you may be saying, "Good job! What's the deal?"

I don't want the words of men to be my cheat sheet.

Lately, I've been especially convicted by this idea while reading The Autobiography of George Muller. If you don't know anything about this guy, just know that he was a man who had a gift for faith. In one excerpt of his book, he says,
"I was growing in the faith and knowledge of Jesus, but I still preferred reading religious books instead of the Scriptures. I read tracts, missionary newsletters, sermons, and biographies of Christian people. God is the author of the Bible, and only the truth it contains will lead people to true happiness."
He then goes on to describe how he grew in this area:
...I ask the Lord to graciously teach me by His Holy Spirit while I meditate over the passages. I write down notes as the Word is opened to me to see how well I understand the passage... I seldom use any other study aids besides the Scriptures and some good translations in other languages. My chief help is prayer."
Simple, eh? The idea behind what I'm trying to say is that we need to depend on Christ and His Holy Spirit to reveal to us the secrets contained in the Word of God. 1 Corinthians 2 talks a whole lot about having God reveal to you the secrets of wisdom. It says, "The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned."

A really clear example of this is when Jesus repeatedly told the disciples that He was going to be murdered. In Luke 9, directly after Jesus tells them this information once again, the passage says, in reference to the disciples, that, "they did not understand this saying, and it was concealed from them, so that they might not perceive it."

So, it looks like a man can't even understand truth unless God gives him the spiritual discernment to see it. This is why I've recently been starting the time that I spend alone with God with a prayer for God to reveal to me the truth hidden in His Word. Let me tell you: it's pretty amazing to be reading a Scripture you don't understand, praying and meditating on it, and having the answer shown to you by God Himself.

This is not to say that Christian books, study guides, commentaries, and things of the like are bad, we just need to learn to, as Ravi Zacharias says, "let the Bible interpret the Bible." The words of men are simply multi-vitamins, not the meal itself.

And now to end with one of my favorite quotes, which I will allow you to determine how it is relevant:

Tell the truth; shame the devil!


Maybe that intro was longer than usual but it gave me a jaw-drop moment anyway. Is cheating just crazy common or what? Maybe I'm simply inexperienced at the school thing because I was homeschooled all 12 grades. I've seen two girls cheating off each other (after the prof stepped out for "a sec") and I seriously thought some guy was attempting to cheat off of my in-class essay (I did the whole guard the page with my arm thing to block his view). Anyway, that's a tad discouraging. (When I got to the Falcon Punch paragraph I was actually hoping that happened.)

But, to the point of your post, I agree. Especially recently I found myself reading devotionals and "Bible studies" more than the Bible itself. I've started reading the Bible on its own, and it is pretty amazing how God opens my mind to things I've read over and over but never understood.

It's kind of like that game of picking one thing to take with you if you were stranded on a desert island. Would you take a commentary or the Bible itself?

I concur. Cheating is getting ridiculous. The work people go through with in order to cheat would get them an A if they studied with the same enthusiasm.

And yes, I agree. The Bible is all that is necessary to interpret the Bible.

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