No. 537



There is a word in the English language, though not used very often, that is very important when it comes to achieving personal success in our lives. The word is "Context" and it means "to weave together." We have all heard someone say, "He tried to prove something, but in doing so he took some things out of context." Have you ever done this or had it done to you? If you have, then you know how frustrating it can be. To be successful, we must be able to communicate effectively, and we can't do that if we habitually take things out of context as we interact and relate with others, whether in a personal, business or professional setting.
If you have never thought about this, I have some things to share that could prove very helpful as you deal with the people who come into your life. To establish a solid foundation, let me go to the dictionary and tell you what it says. Context: To weave together. The parts of a sentence, paragraph, discourse, etc., that occur just before or after a specified word or passage and determine its exact meaning: as, it is unfair to quote this remark out of its context.
There are countless examples to illustrate this, and I want to give you one of the most famous a bit later, but here is one that is very simple that I believe will insure we are all on the same page. First, let's count to 10: one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine and 10. Now let's count to 10 again, but this time we will place one of the numbers out of context: one, two, three, five, six, four, seven, eight, nine and 10. It is easy to see that the number five is out of context. Believe it or not, this is what a lot of people do when they are communicating with others, especially when they are trying to prove something that is to their advantage.
When we take something out of context to prove a point, the real victim is truth and, to be more specific, we cannot succeed over the long haul if we don't tell the truth. In reality, a half-truth is still a lie. This question, please. Have you ever known people who tried to use the Bible in an attempt to prove something, but they took some key points out of context? Here is that famous example that I mentioned earlier: "He (Judas) went away and hanged himself. Go and do the same."
What we have here is two separate sentences from different passages of the Bible. The first sentence is taken from Matthew 27:5b and is the account where Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss and was paid 30 pieces of silver by the chief priests and elders. After he did this, he felt remorse and went back to them and said, "I have sinned by betraying innocent blood." But they said, "What is that to us? See to that yourself." And he threw the pieces of silver into the sanctuary and he departed: and he went away and hanged himself.
The last sentence in that statement is taken from Luke 10:37b and is part of the story of the Good Samaritan. In part it says, "There was a man traveling down the road and he was beaten and robbed by some unsavory men and left on the side of the road to die. Over the next several hours three different men came by, a Priest, a Levite and a Samaritan. The first two passed by on the other side of the road but the Samaritan (half-breed) stopped, put the man on his own beast, took him to an inn and paid for the innkeeper to take care of him. He also told the innkeeper that if he owed more, he would pay him when he returned."
Then Jesus, who was responding to a lawyer's question, said, "Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers' hands?" And the lawyer said, "The one who showed mercy toward him." And Jesus responded, "Go and do the same." Here we have two true statements when taken separately, but when they are linked together, they become untrue. That's what it means to take things out of context.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To support literacy, buy his book "Learning, Earning & Giving Back.")