Don’t let anyone look down on you because you read The Message, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.
(I Timothy 4:12, somewhat altered)
Yesterday I had a conversation with an elderly woman who told me quite plainly that her Christian friends look down on her because she reads and memorizes verses in the Good News Bible (aka Today’s English Version).
This should raise all kinds of red flags.
First of all, it denigrates the translation itself. As BibleGateway.com‘s writeup states, “The GNT is a highly trusted version.” The American Bible Society continues to support the translation with fresh printings and formats.
But more important, it concerns me that her “friends” feel the need to implement correction in terms of her Bible reading choice. In other words, there is an attitude of superiority here, either in terms of their knowledge of what is the best Bible for her, or in terms of their own personal piety or spiritual maturity. In Romans 14 we read:
4Who are you to judge the servants of someone else? It is their own Master who will decide whether they succeed or fail. And they will succeed, because the Lord is able to make them succeed.
(Quoted, just for good measure, from the Good News Translation.)
There are so many things one’s choice of translation doesn’t tell us about the person. How often to they read it? How much time do they spend in the Word in each reading? How are they allowing the seed of God’s Word to take root in their life?
Why do we judge?
Why do we sometimes seem to want to judge?
Honestly, we don’t know the heart of another. Even our closest friends. I Samuel 16 offers us a verse we know but tend not to practice:
7b…I do not judge as people judge. They look at the outward appearance, but I look at the heart.”
The Louis Segund translation renders it this way:
…l’homme regarde à ce qui frappe les yeux, mais l’Éternel regarde au coeur.
In English, it would read that man looks at what “strikes the eyes;” in other words first impressions and superficial indicators.
But God is concerned with the heart.
I got the impression that her “friends” wanted to present a caring attitude, but were perhaps looking for a vulnerability or a weakness because they possibly see her as more spiritual than they are, and by knocking her down a peg or two, they were elevating themselves.
Still, in a “NIV versus ESV” Evangelical environment, it was nice to see someone voting for the Good News Bible.