Since I am a wordsmith, I love definitions. I saw a funny one the other day. The word was “notriphobia.” Apparently, it means the fear of not having any trips booked. And during COVID, I can certainly attest that I currently have “notriphobia.”
But seriously, definitions help us communicate well. And when it comes to spiritual matters, it is so important to define our spiritual life by the Word of God rather than by our own experiences.
A few years back, I had an acquaintance that often declared, “Well, MY God wouldn’t condemn someone to hell…” Or she might say, “MY God is a loving God.” She was making it clear that her interpretation or extrapolation of God was all that mattered. Her comments were proof that what she felt, her point of view, her experiences, her emotions were enough. Through her own personal understandings, she tried to define who God was, is, and shall be.
But that practice is so very dangerous. Our emotions are unreliable. Our viewpoints are limited. Our perspectives can easily be eschewed. To understand the nature, character, person and purposes of almighty God, we need a certain source. We need a firm foundation. We need the Word of God.
That is why in Matthew 4, Jesus answered each of Satan’s schemes with a reference to the scriptures. He kept repeating , “It is written…” In essence He was saying, “Check it out, Satan. There is a very reliable source of information and inspiration. It is God’s Word. And I am relying on it.”
In a similar way, Peter also defined his spiritual experience by the scriptures. On Pentecost, right in the middle of his message, he defines his exuberance with a reference to the prophet Joel. He was stating, “We are not drunk. We are just so excited to see God pour out His Spirit, just as the prophet of old said He would.”
There is a lesson here for all of us. God’s Word has to be central in our lives. We have to define Him and His work using His words. Our emotions, experiences and viewpoints just aren’t reliable enough.
This week, let’s reiterate the words from David in Ps. 119:13-14: “With my lips I recount all the laws that come from your mouth. I rejoice in following your statures…”