A couple weeks ago at Bible Study the ladies were discussing different study bibles, prices, as well as all the acronyms. You know, the NIV, the KJV, the NKJV, the NASB and the likes. Someone brought up "The Message". Without thinking and without enough in depth research to even voice an opinion, I stated something in the way of, "Oh, I don't like The Message....it's so......I don't know....out there. It uses too much slang."
Ever want to bite your tongue so hard that you won't be able to speak again? Ever? As soon as the words came out of my mouth I was ashamed. I sounded like an opinionated smarty pants. I've read a few passages out of The Message and I could swear that one of the verses used the word "DUDE". But I could be mistaken. I don't know. Regardless, I had no right to slam something that I knew so little about. I could have simply said, "Oh, I just prefer the New King James Version."
Churches have been divided over such things. Really. Silly in my opinion (oh no, here I go again with my opinion). I've seen people speak with the air of royalty when they exclaim, with noses high in the air, "I ONLY study the King James!" as they peer down at the lowly NKJV reader....or sinner is what the look implies. This is not the "pouring out of love" or the "unity of the Spirit" which Paul writes about in Ephesians.
We can argue all day about the "right" doctrine, the "right" religion and the "right" bible but what does this accomplish? Where do we find what is "right"? In God's word. The version means little. I think God speaks to us regardless of which bible translation we are reading. So today I decided to give The Message a chance. As I studied the following passage I compared, with an open mind, the NKJV (my personal favorite) to The Message. Here's what I found ~
Ephesians 4:1-3 (New King James)
I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with long-suffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
Ephesians 4:1-3 (The Message)
1-3In light of all this, here's what I want you to do. While I'm locked up here, a prisoner for the Master, I want you to get out there and walk—better yet, run!—on the road God called you to travel. I don't want any of you sitting around on your hands. I don't want anyone strolling off, down some path that goes nowhere. And mark that you do this with humility and discipline—not in fits and starts, but steadily, pouring yourselves out for each other in acts of love, alert at noticing differences and quick at mending fences.
Although I love the way the words beautifully flow in the NKJV version, The Message seems to deliver a no-nonsense message. "While I'm locked up....get out there...RUN!" As I read this I hear the urgency in Paul's voice. I love the list of attributes needed as we walk for our Heavenly Father. Lowliness, gentleness, with long-suffering, bearing one another, peace. But after reading The Message, which seems so tangible, this passage in NKJV seems a bit "fluffy".
NKJV The Message
lowliness and gentleness................................................humility
long-suffering......................................................discipline and steadiness
bearing with one another in love............pouring yourselves out for each other in acts of love
endeavoring to keep unity/peace.................notice differences/quick to mend fences
I also love "POUR yourselves out for each other in acts of love". This sentence has me picturing deep and sincere love, compassion and care for every person we encounter. Spreadin' the love. Pouring out the love. Loving as Christ has loved us. That's good stuff!
Hmm......I kinda like The Message.
Now in lowly and gentle humbleness, I will admit that I was wrong in being so quick to judge.
My prayer today:
May I learn to be humble. May I be steady and disciplined. May I POUR myself out, giving love to every person that I come in contact with. May I be quick to admit when I am wrong. and may I ask for forgiveness when I have offended another. THANK YOU, LORD, for I can only do these things through Christ who strengthens me!