An interesting (and significant) feature of quality Biblical interpretation is to always examine the relationship of passages that are adjacent to one another (context matters!). Often that relationship is purposeful and clearly the Biblical writer, inspired by the Holy Spirit, had a purpose or agenda. Significant truths are taught and significant insights gained from context!
There are many examples of this that could be cited. Today in my Bible reading I encountered one, that in the past I have overlooked (probably because it bridges a chapter boundary) …
I think all of us are impressed by a person we’d call “the real deal” – a person who expresses authenticity, consistency, character and integrity. They practice what they preach. Their Christianity is genuine! There is not a fiber of hypocrisy in their personhood!
So, here’s what I read today… “And in the hearing of all the people He said to his disciples, ‘Beware of [those] who like to walk around in long robes, and love greetings in the marketplaces and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, who devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.” (Luke 20:45–47 ESV)
I wrote this in the margin of my Bible… “Beware of these kinds of people! They are NOT ‘the real deal!’”
Then in the very next passage (at the beginning of the next chapter – an unfortunate chapter boundary marker, I must say) I noticed these words… “Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. And he said, ‘Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.’” (Luke 21:1–4 ESV)
What a contrast! What a powerful truth! The ostentatious, the self-righteous, the proud, the attention seeking, the spiritual bigots are NOT ‘the real deal’! They are the hypocritical – they will be the condemned! On the other hand, the sincere, the simple believer, the humble, the generous, the consistently righteous (and often the unnoticed and overlooked), ARE ‘the real deal!”
Don’t know about you… but I WANT TO BE “THE REAL DEAL!”