We had quite a discussion yesterday in our Sunday School class about why people don’t always trust God. One of the reasons we talked about was found early in Genesis chapter 3, where Eve and the serpent were talking and she added to what God had actually instructed. In other words, she put her own little spin on it. It’s something we all do from time to time and whether we intend to or not, we change the original meaning into something different. We don’t mean to do harm, but that isn’t always the end result.
Don’t you just hate it when you’re misquoted? I used to know someone whose signature words were, “As you were saying…” It is actually a very good communication strategy designed to increase the empathy level of the conversation—to show you were really listening to the person and not just goofing off as they spoke to you from the depths of their heart. The problem that I noticed was that MOST of the time this person (who actually loved me very much) used this phrase as it related to me…well, the return message was RARELY what I intended to communicate—and may even been in direct opposition to what I had actually said. If their initial understanding of what I said was communicated to someone else without oftentimes radical revision, I’d have been portrayed as having views that were completely different from what I actually thought.
Before you get to thinking that I’m a bit puffed up or paranoid about this, know that I’d actually gotten phone calls from people asking me, “Did you really say that?!” This was annoying, at the very least—and had a great deal of potential danger regarding relationships with the other humans in my world. BUT, I often wondered, if those who were listening to the reported version actually knew me, shouldn’t they have given me the benefit of the doubt before reacting to one of those “As she was saying …” statements? Shouldn’t they have known my character, my heart–me!–better than that?
If I can be upset and frustrated—even compromised in my relationships with others by someone else’s inability to correctly divine the intent of my heart or mind—isn’t it possible that God has the right to a similar opinion…on a much grander scale?
I wonder if He keeps records about how often we misquote him or ‘spin’ His words to match our own desires. Does He say anything in Scripture to give us an idea about how He feels about this subject? Actually, He does. He’s pretty plain in Proverbs 30:5-6, Deuteronomy 4:2 and 12:32…not to mention the dire warnings about this in Revelation 22:18 and 19, just to mention a few. If we belong to God shouldn’t we be concerned about how we portray Him at least as much as we are concerned about how we are portrayed?
My point for today is this: Let’s make sure we’re accurately handling the word of God in our conversations and in the way we live our lives. Someone else’s ability to trust in God and get to know the real Him may depend on it.