My Musings – Michael Jordan just may be the greatest all-around basketball player of all time. But the one who played in his shadow, Scottie Pippin was no slouch either. Babe Ruth is a baseball legend, but playing somewhat in his shadow was a pretty good baseball player in his own right, Lou Gehrig. For several years, Aaron Rodgers stood patiently on the sidelines as back-up quarterback for the Green Bay Packers, waiting his turn to come out from the shadow of Brett Favre. Many people (Barnabas, Titus, Silas, Timothy) labored alongside the Apostle Paul, largely in his shadow. But for the person casting the shadow, many of these shadow dwellers may have shined brighter.
There are examples in the scriptures too. Verses that “hang-out” in the shadow of the better verse we all love to quote. Here are three examples.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” (John 3:16-18, NIV 1984).
Standing in the shadows of that great promise for all who believe, is the condemnation for those who do not.
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:8-10, NIV 1984).
Standing in the shadows of astounding proclamation of salvation by grace through faith alone is what God has prepared for those who take that step of faith.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (Philippians 4:6-8, NIV 1984)
Standing in the shadows of that precious promise of peace and guarded hearts and minds, are the instructions on how they are obtained.
There are, I am sure, many other examples I could cite. But the point is, let’s not be satisfied with quotable “sound bites,” as marvelous as they are. There is so much more we can learn in the surrounding context. In many cases, what is obscured in the shadowy context, may reveal we’ve been applying the more well known verse improperly.
My Advice – We need to correctly handle the Word of truth. For “all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). By the way, that last phrase (“so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.“) sometimes gets overlooked in the shadows.