United Church of Christ

When the Devil Quotes Scripture

The Most High will command the angels to guard you in all your ways. On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone. - Psalm 91:11-12

What do you do when the devil quotes Scripture to you?

That’s what happened to Jesus (according to Matthew 4 and Luke 4) during the time of temptation.

That’s also what happens to us and to others when we throw Scripture in one another’s faces … or have Scripture thrown in our faces … or even throw Scripture in our own faces with a berating tone.

We might be testers and tempters, daring others to prove their faith through the litmus test of Scripture. We might be haters, plying Scripture to cause harm and to wield our own judgments in the name of God. We might be do-gooders, spouting Scripture as an easy-peasy Band-Aid to those who are suffering and struggling.

“Here, this verse will fix everything. This verse will prove I am right. This verse will verify the rightness of your faith. This verse will convict you of your sins and single-handedly convince you to change your ways.”

Before you tell Jesus to jump off the temple; before you tell your neighbors that Jesus is the only way, truth, and life; before you tell your sibling that God has a purpose for their suffering; maybe double-check whether your faith is unnecessarily saddled with the baggage of Scripture-as-litmus-test. Reconsider whether you need to burden those around you with that same baggage.

Even the devil quoted Scripture. The words are only as good as the love and the life-affirming action with which they come.

Prayer
May the words of our tongues, no matter how biblical, no matter how well-intentioned, not become stones that weigh down and drown our siblings.

dd-hackenberg.jpgAbout the Author
Rachel Hackenberg serves on the national staff for the United Church of Christ. She is the author of Writing to God and Denial Is My Spiritual Practice, among other titles. Her blog is Faith and Water.

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