Exegesis or Eisegesis – in relationships???

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I hope y’all will bear with me for a minute while I think through something in writing. Do any of you think better in writing, too?

My pastor has tried several times to explain the difference between the biblical interpretation terms, “exegesis” and “eisegesis.” (Maybe these words are new to you — they were to me!) Exegesis involves looking deeply into the text to discover what God is communicating to us, while eisegesis involves bringing our own ideas to the Bible and then looking for evidence to support it. My pastor has often warned us not to have an idea that “seems right” to us and then dig a verse out of context to “prove it.” For example, using “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength” to justify a whole laundry list of activities might be an example of “eisegesis.”

Last week, I started thinking about how I can be guilty of “eisegesis” in my relationships. I can let my own ideas and biases color how I interpret my loved one’s actions.

Let’s say, I’m feeling neglected and unloved by my husband, and he fails to let me know that he’s going to be late getting home from work. The thoughts in my head go something like this: “He’s so thoughtless. He doesn’t care about my feelings one bit. He always acts like this.”

But, if my love-cup is full and I’m feeling like my husband adores me, then when he fails to let me know that he’s going to be late getting home from work, I think, “Poor guy. He must be caught in the middle of a long phone call at work. I should shoot him a quick text to see how he’s doing.”

How about if I’m feeling like my daughter doesn’t like me. Envy quickly rears its ugly head and I start blaming my ugly feelings on her. When she tells me about a long conversation she had with a friend of hers, my mind starts whirling. “She always makes time for other people in her life, but never seems to have time for me. She is so inconsiderate … and after all I’ve done for her.”

But, if we’ve been spending regular sweet time together, then my thoughts take a totally different spin. Instead I think, “Thank you, Father, for giving Emily such a good friend that she can do life with. Thank you for answering my prayers. I am so blessed!”

Here’s the thing: truth is truth, and feelings are feelings. But feelings should never be the basis for truth. We have to carefully test our feelings in light of the truth. Our feelings change moment by moment, but truth remains the same.

We should approach both the scriptures, and our relationships, with what is true. The truth is that our battle isn’t against flesh and blood. The truth is that we should carefully renew our minds in light of the truth.

The truth is that God loves me and has good plans for me.

The truth is that God is sovereign and at work even in hard situations.

The truth is that my husband loves me, my children love me and I love my husband and my children.

The truth is that I am a sinner saved by God’s grace and I am prone to think selfish thoughts.

The truth is that love is patient and kind. It does not envy or boast. It is not proud or rude. And God wants me to pour out His love on others.

The truth is that God loved me while I was still a sinner, so as the chief of sinners, I can love others with the love God has lavished on me.

How do you need to remind yourself of what is true and discern rightly the relationships you’re in? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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