Devos: Yay, or nay?
In case you didn’t know, the word “devo” is short for “devotions,” or “devotionals.” There is a slight difference in definition, but the general concept is the same. Devotions are times dedicated to God, usually spent reading Scripture, texts about Scripture, prayer, or worship. Daily devotions are a common practice for most Christians, and some even do them religiously. Devotionals are (often) short texts written about Scripture that highlight specific verses or the author’s experiences and opinions about them. Many churches, Pastors and Priests write devotionals to serve as inspirational and instructional literature for readers. You can buy them almost anywhere and churches often give them out for free.
I personally enjoy a good devotion, but I’ve noticed over the years that some of them are full of errors. I learned that free doesn’t necessarily mean quality, and just because it’s written by a “man of the cloth” doesn’t mean it’s theologically sound. Often Christians read devotionals because they are short and can be read quickly during coffee time or before bed. Devotionals are often designed this way–just like those pre-made lunches you can buy at the supermarket. It’s not very common that a reader will look up the verses quoted to check the context and make sure everything’s kosher. It’s simply too easy to read what is in front of you and move on, and after all, who would purposely quote a Scripture carelessly and out of context?
What happens if a writer misquotes Scripture, or even confuses popular idioms with Holy text? What happens when a writer takes Scripture out of context? A simple mistake could snowball into giving someone a false impression about God, and who would be the wiser except for true students of the Word? Some would even go as far as to say that this constitutes as blasphemy.
Let’s say that a Pastor grew up hearing the old adage that, “God helps those who help themselves.” Supposing that he agrees with this—it is safe to assume that this viewpoint has become a part of his theology about God. He may think nothing of sharing this view about God and may even use Scripture to support his view. This may be a poignant phrase with very good implications, but is it scriptural? Does is line up with the rest of the Bible’s teachings? To a true disciple, this is what should be most important, not the time saved by supplemental articles provided in a devotional.
I have noticed that some Christians take liberties thinking that because God is their Father that they truly know Him. They get lazy and presumptuous, and write things based on our finite understanding as humans. They assume that songs written about God, popular opinions in church culture, and trendy new “revelations” about how the “spiritual world” work are truths. I have done it myself! It took a very painful experience in my life to realize that one slight deviation in Scripture can snowball, and that ultimately I am responsible to check the Bible for myself.
Don’t be deceived, dear child of God. Inspect your food before you eat it. Read your Bible for yourself, remember that supplemental reading is just that, and never let anyone lead you who isn’t accountable to others and Scripture.