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The Big Picture

In Matthew 15, Jesus is dealing with the Pharisees.  They were challenging Him because His disciples were not keeping the tradition of the elders of the Jewish people.  They hadn’t washed their hands before they ate something.  He challenged them back regarding their failure to keep a much weightier matter of the law regarding the respect and care of their parents.  They were concerned about a nit-picking rule of their own making while they are ignoring a deeper principle ordained by God Himself.  Jesus said, ‘Are ye also yet without understanding?’ (Mt. 15:16) They were missing the big picture while they focused on a small, non-issue.
How often do we do that?  How often do we get hung up on some small thing . . . even some rule of our own?  Jesus said in Matthew 23:23, ‘Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  For ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.’  In this case, the small issue was an issue, but there were higher priorities which were being ignored.  Like them, we also need the big picture, but how do we get it?
For sure, we need to look for it.  We need to back up mentally and spiritually and look for it.  We so often read the Word, verse by verse, dissecting it for a proof text that we’re looking for and miss the big picture altogether.  In this case, we’ve apparently already decided what we believe and we’re looking for biblical proof.  We chop bits out of their context to prove a point.  We miss the perspective which could have given us insight into the bigger issue addressed, the big picture.
One of the ways that we can avoid this is to always approach the Word as a learner, never having decided what we already believe.  Always hold your understanding of the Word like it’s an unfinished thing.  The Word is complete, but our understanding of it is not.  We should be open to always allowing God to speak into that as we study, listening to the Spirit for understanding.  Do we already think that we know it all?  Well, sometimes we behave that way.
One of the practical things that I do to help me this way is something that I learned from a fellow missionary before we went to Papua New Guinea decades ago.  That secret is to read the Bible through from cover to cover repeatedly.  Of course, you’ll always have your study.  However, this gives you a time in which you’re simply reading the Word to learn, not with an agenda, as we often do when we study.  Give time and energy to let it speak to you without agenda.  Let it teach you.  I set my goal to read it through yearly at first.  By now I’ve read it through perhaps 40 times, just listening.
It’s given me some insights that I consider amazing . . . some big picture things that have given me perspective.  I’m looking forward, over the next months, to share some of those with you.  You’ll be the judge.  However, I hope that you’ll consider approaching His Word differently.  Let it speak to you as to one who is still open to having his understanding and perspective adjusted.  Otherwise, it’s possible that we’ve stopped learning.  Don’t get stuck there.  Let Him teach you the big picture.  Then you’ll know where all the little things fit too.  Try it.
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