In an effort to keep up a positive attitude, we sometimes end up treating the authors of the Bible as motivational speakers.
We grab hold of a scripture without knowing the context of who it was written to and why, not really understanding what it means. A popular one is Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. plans to prosper you.
It sounds great as a Facebook status or on a mug sold in a Christian bookstore, but we use it without thinking that it was written to the Israelites who had been exiled to Babylon for continually following false gods. God was telling them He was going to keep His word and restore to them all He had originally promised when they left Egypt. It isn't about promising us wealth today. But it is still an important message because it shows us, here and now, that God keeps His promises. His promise to us isn't financial success or rodeo wins, it's a promise of eternal life through His son, Jesus Christ.
In our effort to grab hold of what sounds positive or encouraging, we often short-change what the Bible is.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
How much more than some motivational verses is that? The Bible is meant for everything we do.
Some of us will have heard the Bible described as God's living word to us. This is one of the verses that gives us that understanding when it describes the Bible as “God-breathed”, meaning God brought it to life; meaning the Bible is as relevant now as the original documents were thousands of years ago.
Then we learn the Bible is perfect for correction and teaching and preparing us for every good action we might carry out in this world. If we're following God's plan for our lives, we're going to find instruction in how to carry that out in His living word. Part of His plan is for us to carry out the Great Commission, which is sharing the gospel and making disciples to the ends of the Earth. We learn how to do this through God's living word.
It's so much more than a source of motivation; it's our instruction manual for how to know Christ and how to live like Him. It prepares us to live a life for God and shows us how to be used by Him to do good and point others to Christ.
It's not wrong to want to encourage one another with Bible verses but we're better served learning what they truly mean and then teaching those truths to others—the most important being who Jesus is and how we can be made right with God through Him.