Many of us are familiar with the famous Dragnet line by Dan Aykroyd’s character, Sergeant Joe Friday- “Just the facts Ma’am”. Yet, many of us do not know that this was NOT quite a quote from the original Sergeant Joe Friday in the 1950’s television series. To explain, Sergeant Joe Friday actually said, “All we want are the facts, ma’am” or “All we know are the facts, ma’am.” The 1987 movie combined these two quotes for the above “funnier” version that has embedded itself into the minds of Dragnet fans.
While this example of misquoting had a positive result, misquoting in the news often does not produce the same outcome. There was a time when the public could trust the media for the truth. However, the truth is not so obvious anymore. The sad part is with development of the information highway, a person can easily find an article to support his opinion. Even more troublesome is how certain News Broadcasting Companies are obviously either supporting the Democratic or Republican party Thus, their interpretation of the same event is described differently as a way to persuade the audience one way or the other.
Unfortunately, these misreported/misconstrued headlines are NOT going away in the near future and are not restricted to politics either. For instance, even scripture from the Bible has been misinterpreted for centuries. Most Christians refer to this practice as “taking scripture out of context”. Plus, did you know that some universally known sayings have been attributed as Biblical quotes, yet are NOT in the Bible. Here are two famous examples, “God won’t give you more than you can handle, and God helps those who help themselves”. Admittedly, when I heard these saying, I thought they were true scripture references too. Thankfully, with God’s help, I went from a new “spoon-fed” baby Christian to a more mature believer who studies His word on my own. Therefore, I discovered God does give us more than we can handle so that we rely on Him and not our own strength, and God desires to help everyone; especially, those who cannot help themselves for when they are weak, He is strong!
Now, when I hear a sermon, I often make sure that the scripture verses used are correctly represented. In addition, as a writer for this Christian blog, I feel it is my responsibility to hold my writing to God’s standard. The scripture I quote should appropriately reinforce the point of my post while remaining true to its original Biblical content. To illustrate, God’s word (The Bible) is “God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). Even though this scripture is copied accurately, it is important to mention the verse before it and after it as to fully understand its full significance.
Let’s look at verse 15, 16, & 17 altogether:
Verse 15: “From infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus”.
Verse 16: “All scriptures is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness”
Verse 17: “so that the man of God may be complete, fully equipped for every good work”.
Verse 16 needs both 15 and 17 like the bread of a sandwich to complete its meaning. If misrepresented, verse 16 may cause a new believer to think that scripture alone is useful for teaching righteousness. However, righteousness does not come from reading, being taught, corrected, or rebuked by scripture. Furthermore, attending church, singing Hymns, or memorizing verses will NOT make you right with God. Righteousness is a gift from God because an individual is saved through the blood of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. It is through faith and Holy Spirit inspiration that the words in the Bible come alive. Plus, when you follow verse16 with verse 17, you realize it is God who completes and fully equips EVERY believer for His EVERY good work.
Ultimately, just as a responsible citizen must take the time to research a topic on their own to find unbiased information, so should a Christian when he hears or sees any scripture. By reading the whole chapter, using a reputable commentary, and praying to the Holy Spirit for wisdom, a believer will have more than Just the facts ma’am-he will have the God-breathed truth!
**NOTE: Read the whole chapter of Timothy for leading up to these 3 verses, Paul is warning Timothy to not be deceived by those who are imposters. Scripture is essential to test against false teachers.