I read the story of four biblical scholars who were arguing over which Bible translation was the best. One said he preferred the King James Version. He grew up reading and memorizing this version and loved its beautiful old English. Another spoke up and said he believed the New American Standard was the best. He argued it was the most accurate translation from the original Greek and Hebrew languages. The third scholar could not stay quiet any longer. He interrupted and said, “It’s obvious, from anyone who studies such things, the Moffatt translation is superior.” He argued this translation uses words to capture the reader’s attention which makes it the best.
After the heated discussion continued for several minutes, the three arguing about their preferred translation realized the fourth scholar had said nothing. So, they turned to him and asked, “What version do you prefer?” To which he replied, “I like my mother's translation the best.” The three were surprised to hear this. They knew his mother never translated the Bible, so they asked him to explain. “She did translate the Bible. She translated each page of the Bible into life. It is the most convincing translation I ever saw."
In Matthew 28:19, Jesus tells us to go to all the world and make disciples. We are to share the Good News of God’s love and grace. Then Jesus says this. “Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you.” (Matthew 28:20, NLT) Look at that verse again. Our call is to teach new disciples to obey all the commands. This is not just about filling heads with Bible truth although that is vital and is the starting point. It is much more about living in such a way so as to translate Bible truth into one’s life. It’s about demonstrating, in concrete actions, the truth we learn from Scripture.
Let me illustrate this. Ephesians 4:29 says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Before you continue on, please think about how you translate this verse into your daily life. There are times, in my life, when I live out this verse in concrete ways. I do a good job translating it into real life.
However, I have a confession. There are other times I do a poor job of translating this verse. When I react to something my wife says in a tone which is not helpful to build her up, I’m not translating this verse into my life. When I’m more interested in getting my point across than I am in listening to others, I am not translating this verse into my life. When I don’t seek to understand the needs of others, I’m not translating this verse into my life. When I’m so focused on myself, what I want, and what makes me happy, that I completely miss opportunities right in front of me to encourage and build up others, I’m not translating this verse into my life. When I speak words that do not benefit those who hear, I’m not translating this verse into my life. I could go on but I think you get the point.
FROM THE ELDERS—Dr. Bill Denning