One of my biggest social media mistakes has been tweeting something that really only makes sense in my head (followed by quickly deleting). Whether it’s a “witty” statement, a quote or even a Bible verse, it’s got to make sense on its own for it to really work.
And all the people said, “Well, duh.”
But we Christians fudge on this pretty hard, if we’re being honest—especially when we’re trying to pick a Bible verse to share. Rather than quoting in context, we often just go with something that feels good. But we don’t (usually) check to make sure that what we’re saying actually makes sense—or might actually be good on its own. Here are ten verses, for example, that would probably be terrible to share on their own:
- “My wounds are foul and festering because of my foolishness.” (Psalm 38:5 HCSB)
- “O Lord, you have deceived me, and I was deceived; you are stronger than I, and you have prevailed.” (Jeremiah 20:7 ESV)
- “For in much wisdom is much vexation, and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.” (Ecclesiastes 1:18 ESV)
- “For my loins are full of burning pain, and there is no health in my body.” (Psalm 38:7 HCSB)
- “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11 ESV)
- “My eye wastes away because of grief; it grows weak because of all my foes.” (Psalm 6:7 ESV)
- “You will eat it as you would a barley cake and bake it over dried human excrement in their sight.” (Ezekiel 4:12 HCSB)
- “Happy is he who takes your little ones and dashes them against the rocks.” (Psalm 137:9 HCSB)1
- “Why, O Lord, do you stand far away? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?” (Psalm 10:1 ESV)
- “He turned around, looked at them, and cursed them in the name of the Lord. Then two female bears came out of the woods and mauled 42 of the children.” (2 Kings 2:24 HCSB)
As is true on the coffee cup, so too on Twitter.
Now, obviously, most of us would never tweet any of the verses on this list (except for possibly #5) because, well, we’re not ninnies. It’s obvious these don’t really make sense on their own (and that includes #5). But in their context, every single one of these verses tells us something of the plans of God, the state of humanity, or the emotional state of God’s people. Some are related to sin’s fruit in the soul. Others put God’s judgment on full display. Some are the laments of desperate people. And each one of them can (and does) draw us closer to the Lord, ultimately, in their context. But by themselves, they may not make much sense or offer much hope—even the ones that offer promises.
So what should we do instead? Simple: let’s do our best to think before we tweet our Bible. A verse that might actually be encouraging in context may simply be confusing without it.