What I've really enjoyed about it is the fresh perspective it has given me, not because the meaning of the words is different, but because reading the verses through in the new phrasing has allowed me to see many things with fresh eyes. The language is also more suited to how we speak, breaking through that natural communication barrier that sometimes exists between us and the language of some translations.
I want to share a few things that have stood out to me that never really have before.
The first I found tucked away in Proverbs 31, and it was actually before the verses about being a virtuous wife. Verse 8 says "Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those who are perishing. Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice." What a call to those of us who follow God! We have a duty to speak up for those who are unable to speak for themselves and be their advocates. I love that God has asked us to be there for the forgotten groups, those without power or influence, because it is these that God has His special eye on. There are so many groups to whom this would apply, giving us all opportunity to be a part of making this happen. Of course when I read this I thought immediately about the crisis pregnancy center that we adopted Adrienne through.
I've also been reading through the first chapters of Matthew, and the Beattitudes spoke powerfully to me through this New Living Translation.
God blesses those who realize their need for him,
for the Kingdom of Heaven is given to them.
God blesses those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
God blesses those who are gentle and lowly,
for the whole earth will belong to them.
God blesses those who are hungry and thirsty for justice,
for they will receive it in full.
God blesses those who are merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
God blesses those whose hearts are pure,
for they will see God.
God blesses those who work for peace,
for they will be called the children of God.
God blesses those who are persecuted because they live for God,
for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
That first sentence is HUGE. Over and over again, it seems like what Jesus speaks out against are those who think they've got it all figured out on their own. Those who feel like their goodness is good enough, going through life mildly intoxicated by their own sense of having mastered the secret to living, when in reality they miss the entire point! It's such an easy trap to fall into, especially for the person who lives a good life. When you see yourself doing the right things, when you line up pretty well against some of those around you, then it gets easier and easier for your need for Jesus to seem pretty minimal. But Jesus lists that first. God blesses those who realize their need for God! I think that's why sometimes the hard things of life are blessings in disguise, because it is those things that bring us back to this reality more swiftly than anything else. I know.
I'm not going sentence by sentence, but I do want to hit on the last one as well. God blesses those who are persecuted because they live for God. This is something I don't like to dwell on. I don't like really thinking about persecution being a reality. But the truth is that it is, and in some places in the world, it is happening now. And as much as the human part of me doesn't want to admit it, we are not immune from persecution coming to this country, and not just the I'm being excluded by my friends because I'm a Christian kind. This isn't the only place that the Bible tells us that it is a blessing to suffer for Him. I'm not asking God to give me chances to be persecuted, but I am asking that He help remove the fear from my life that tends to grip me when I think about this to long. I don't want to worry about the future, but I do want to be able to live for God despite whatever the future brings.
If you are interested in reading more out of this translation, or if your in the market for a new Bible and don't know which translation to choose, you can go to biblegateway and read any part of the Bible in just about every translation available. It's a really neat tool if you've never used it before! Give it a try and see if something doesn't strike you in a new way.