In some ways houw you apply what you study will depend on the category of biblical literature. Some categories are harder to apply than others. Today we’ll begin to look at how to apply various types of biblical literature.
The teaching and legal portions of Scripture are probably the easiest to apply. These pasages tell us not to steal, not to kill, not to lie, to love our neighbors, to trust God and share the gospel. Applying what you read is mostly a matter of evaluating yourself against the Bible’s positvie and negative commands to see what you need to do. Even here, though, there is some varity of application. As we’ve discussed before, John the Baptist’s ministry illustrates this variation:
“And the people asked him, saying, What shall we do then? He answereth and saith unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise. Then came also publicans to be baptized, and said unto him, Master, what shall we do? And he said unto them, Exact no more than that which is appointed you. And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do? And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages.” (Luk 3:10-14)
Three different groups heard John preach and wanted act on his message. John answered each group, and the answer depended on their particular circumstances. It will be like that as you try to apply the Bible; your circumstances will influence what you should do to obey God’s Word.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not say that obedience is optional. God says not to lie. I’m not saying it’s OK to lie if your circumstances are tough. I’m just saying that obedience takes different forms, but obedience is not conditional. An elderly woman in a nursing home, a business man who travels often, and a mom with young children are all commanded to share the gospel, but their obedience will probably take different forms.
You apply Proverbs in a way that is are similar to, but different than, the Bible’s commands and teaching passages. Proverbs offer wise counsel. Here’s an example of a proverb that would be tough to apply like a command:
“If a wise man contendeth with a foolish man, whether he rage or laugh, there is no rest.” (Pro 29:9)
This verse tells you the way things are. If a wise man contends with a fool, the fool may get mad at him or laugh at him, but the confrontation probably won’t settle the issue. Here’s another example:
“The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat.” (Pro 13:4)”
Now there are lazy people who inherit their wealth and they have the things they want. Others are users who take advantage of people to get what they want. There are also people who work hard all their lives and don’t have much to show for it. This passage gives you wise counsel though – you’re more likely to get the things you desire if you are willing to work for them.
Read More About It
Read 1 Thessalonians 5:16-22 and determine what you need to do to apply this passage.