It’s Not About Me
The final part of Walton’s sound advice (see part 1 here and part 2 here) when it comes to Bible study is labeled “values commitments.” It can be summed up by the title of this post, “It’s not about me.” While the advice given in the previous posts is generally applicable to all Bible study, the context in which Walton presents it is with regards to the place and role of women in leadership and what Genesis 2 contributes to this discussion. The values commitments that Walton lays out are particularly applicable to his discussion of Genesis 2 and the role of women. However, Walton’s advice certainly applies to more than the “role of women in the church” controversy. It is sound advice for any difficult issue we confront, especially when that issue might lead to a power-struggle within the Body of Christ. Here are Walton’s 4 points on values commitments:
- We must determine that individual “rights” and the pursuit of them will not take precedence over more important values, as they have in our society at large.
- We must resist any desire to hoard or attain power, though our society and our fallenness drive us to pursue it above all else.
- We must constantly strive to divest ourselves of self, though we live in a “What about me?” world.
- We must accept that ministry is not to be considered a route to self-fulfillment; it is service to God and his people. (Walton, J. H. (2001). Genesis (pp. 189–190). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.)
Let Me Repeat: It’s Not About Me
If our goal in Bible study is the pursuit of truth, then it goes without saying that personal agendas need to be set aside. I get into trouble when my motive is about proving my point. Emotion and emotional issues can often blind me to what the text is saying. If I’m more concerned about my rights (1 above), my power (2 above), my ego (3 above), or my own fulfillment (4 above), then even if I am technically right on an issue, I am wrong. The path I follow to arrive at my view or conclusion must involve honesty, integrity, and humility as I study and listen to what God’s Word has to say on a particular topic. As Rich Mullins sang back in the 90s “I did not make it, no, it is making me. It is the very truth of God, not the invention of any man” (Creed) I do not have authority over the Word. The Word has authority over me. I do not seek to change the Word. I seek the Word to change me! As Walton makes clear in his final point (4 above), our ultimate goal is not self-fulfillment, but serving God and his people. Because of our humanity, we will never be right about every interpretation of Scripture. However, if we implement Walton’s sound advice, we will be more often right than wrong, and we will certainly reflect the image of Christ as we seek to study, understand, and teach his word.