Several months ago I heard some noise about Colin Kaepernick’s tatoos. For those of you with your head buried in the sand of survival, Kapernick is the young and very talented quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers. From what I can see, much of his upper body is covered in tatoos. One critic claimed that his body art was inappropriate because it resembles that of a member of a gang. Then I heard the response from someone on sports radio.
“Dude, they’re Bible verses.”
And–some of them are!
You and I can disagree regarding whether or not body art is allowed by Scripture. But the fact remains–this particular athlete is attempting to hold forth the Word of life. I taught that concept in one of my college classes this week. It is found in Philippians, chapter two. The best rendering of the passage is found in the King James Version. However, I appreciate the manner in which other translations present it as well.
Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain. KJV
Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain. NASB
Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life—in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing. NIV
Two different words. Two different actions. Forth. Fast. Both are fine to utilize. Both are necessary to do.
We are to hold forth the Word of life. Our calling as Christians is to “provide people with a glimpse of good living and the living God” as we “carry the light-giving message into the night” (The Message). The Scriptures are a wonderful gift that are to be shared. And–since faith comes through hearing the Word of God (Rom. 10:17)–it is essential that we proclaim it any way that we can.
We are to hold fast the Word of life. This can mean our cherishing, our valuing of the incredible gift God has given to us. It can also connote our need to continue to use the Bible as our measuring stick for that which we believe as well as for how we should live.
I have a lot of possessions. In fact, I have too many. But some of my possession are Bibles. My preferred translation is the New American Standard. My favorite copy is the LARGE PRINT edition I have. I read it daily, meditating upon the truths presented and how I should act and react as a result. I need to hold it fast. I do hold it fast. But am I holding it forth? Am I creating ways in which to present it to those around me? Honestly–that’s the first and foremost reason for the creation of this blog several years ago. I am also afforded with the opportunity of teaching God’s Word on the collegiate level. It is crucial that I take these responsibilities seriously. I should also find other ways to proclaim His excellencies (1 Pet. 2:9,10).
Consider for a moment your own situation. Are you holding forth and holding fast the Word? What role do the Scriptures play in your life? Beware of taking the Bible for granted. Love it. Read it. Apply it. Share it. (Listen–Tim!)
I close with the words of Matthew Henry:
It is our duty not only to hold fast, but to hold forth the word of life; not only to hold it fast for our own benefit, but to hold it forth for the benefit of others, to hold it forth as the candlestick holds forth the candle, which makes it appear to advantage all around (eSword).
PS–For a related discussion, stop by the Quick Takes page!