Skip to content ↓

Little Words That Make All the Difference

Reading Bible

We are often called upon to help. We, who are a bit more seasoned, a bit more experienced, a bit more knowledgeable about God, his ways, and his Word—we are called upon to answer questions, to resolve concerns, to solve dilemmas. And rightly so. The younger should rely upon the wisdom of the older; the older should seek out and influence the younger.

However, when we impart such wisdom, a few short words make all the difference: “This is me, not the Bible.” It is a distinction that has to do with authority, a distinction between inerrant commands and imperfect application.

Here’s how it works.

He approaches you to ask about a girl he has met, a girl who has caught his eye. He wants to know what he should do. You tell him what the Bible clearly demands and forbids when it comes to relationships, dating, and marriage. Then, as his questions continue and get more specific, you say, “Now this is me, not the Bible.” You are making it clear that you’ve gone from an area of absolute biblical clarity to an area of wisdom and conscience. You are ensuring that both you and he acknowledge the difference.

She approaches you to get help with her transition from an old church to a new one. She wants to leave the first cleanly and join the second properly. You tell her what the Bible makes clear—she must make every attempt to resolve conflict, she must not speak ill of others, she must be part of a church where she can serve and be served. But as she pushes in, and she moves from generalities to specifics, you make it clear: “This is me, not the Bible.” In this you acknowledge your imperfect grasp of the facts, your inadequate knowledge of the inner motivations. You ensure both of you know that you’ve gone beyond God’s clear direction and into those areas of much less certainty.

We often confuse the two. We often act as if our application of principles is as authoritative as the principles themselves. In this way we inadvertently lay burdens on others that are too heavy to bear or perhaps encourage them in their disobedience. It is far better for us, far better for them, if we freely acknowledge when we have gone beyond what God so clearly forbids and demands. We do that with simple words: “This is me, not the Bible.”


  • We All Have To Do With God

    We All Have To Do With God

    Every one of us must deal with God. Every one of us must, at some time, face God. Every one of us must be prepared to give an account to God. For, as Scripture says, “Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto…

  • A La Carte Collection cover image

    Weekend A La Carte (February 24)

    A La Carte: Wherever he leads, he’ll go / Britain’s loneliest sheep / Helping your teen with porn / How do the Arminian and Calvinist views of election differ? / Exposing the good in digital distractions / Kindle deals / and more.

  • Free Stuff Fridays (Coram Deo Pastors Conference)

    This week the blog and this giveaway are sponsored by the Coram Deo Pastors Conference. Dear brother pastor, In a spirit of prayerful expectation, I want to invite you to the Coram Deo Pastors Conference. This new event is hosted by Clearly Reformed (a new ministry I help to lead) and Christ Covenant Church (where…

  • The Kindness of God

    God’s Goodness in a Cruel World

    There is much to love and appreciate about our God, much for which we ought to give him praise and thanks. One of the attributes we may consider too seldom is his goodness, and as an aspect or component of his goodness, his kindness. And that is the subject of

  • A La Carte Collection cover image

    A La Carte (February 23)

    A La Carte: Order, preparation, and the Spirit’s leading / Desecration at St. Patrick’s Cathedral / Why did God stigmatize the disabled? / Who would I be if I was happy? / 7 parenting errors that can influence adult children to leave the faith / and more.

  • A La Carte Collection cover image

    A La Carte (February 22)

    A La Carte: Ice, wind, and unanswered prayers / Was it all a waste? / Prepping for the impending apocalypse / The best analogy for the Trinity / Getting to stop by woods on a snowy evening / Bible translation and AI / and more.