The King James Version of the Holy Bible is incomparable. It has its shortcomings, chief of which is the older English that is sometimes hard to understand, but it also retains what my cousin calls “the power in the Word.”
However, if KJV is on one end of the extreme, The Message is definitely on the other end. Its language goes beyond simple English (simple English is Good News Translation and New Living Translation) to contemporary, conversational grammar that sometimes leaves you confused and reaching for an older translation to confirm (where does the Bible say this?!) and at other times, leaves you exhilarated and in awe of God’s love, grace, mercy, and glory displayed in the holy scriptures.
In fact, technically, The Message is not a translation but a paraphrase, meaning that it’s not designed to be relied on as one’s main or only Bible. However, it’s certainly a plus for every believer to have. Not convinced? Check out these verses:
1. God will sort you out:
‘Open up before God, keep nothing back; he’ll do whatever needs to be done: He’ll validate your life in the clear light of day and stamp you with approval at high noon. Quiet down before God, be prayerful before him. Don’t bother with those who climb the ladder, who elbow their way to the top.’ ~ Psalm 37:5-7
2. Finding rest in Christ:
‘Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.’ ~ Matthew 11:28–30.
3. Remembering the Source of your wealth:
‘If you start thinking to yourselves, “I did all this. And all by myself. I’m rich. It’s all mine!”—well, think again. Remember that God, your God, gave you the strength to produce all this wealth so as to confirm the covenant that he promised to your ancestors—as it is today.’ ~ Deuteronomy 8:17, 18
4. The importance of forgiveness in relationships:
‘Overlook an offense and bond a friendship; fasten on to a slight and—good-bye, friend!’ ~ Proverbs 17:9
5. The power of worship:
‘Worship God if you want the best; worship opens doors to all His goodness.’ ~ Psalm 34:9
6. Faith, hope, and love:
‘But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.’ ~ 1 Cor 13:13
7. Popularity vs integrity:
‘There’s trouble ahead when you live only for the approval of others, saying what flatters them, doing what indulges them. Popularity contests are not truth contests—look how many scoundrel preachers were approved by your ancestors! Your task is to be true, not popular.’ ~ Luke 6:26
8. Dealing with difficult people:
‘To you who are ready for the truth, I say this: Love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer for that person. If someone slaps you in the face, stand there and take it. If someone grabs your shirt, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it. If someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously.’ ~ Luke 6: 27-30
9. Seeking Jesus, finding you:
‘If you don’t go all the way with me, through thick and thin, you don’t deserve me. If your first concern is to look after yourself, you’ll never find yourself. But if you forget about yourself and look to me, you’ll find both yourself and me.’ ~ Matthew 10:38-39
10. Love one another:
‘Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything.’ ~ 1 Peter 4:8
11. Strength is for service, not for status:
‘Those of us who are strong and able in the faith need to step in and lend a hand to those who falter, and not just do what is most convenient for us. Strength is for service, not status. Each one of us needs to look after the good of the people around us, asking ourselves, “How can I help?”’ ~ Romans 15:1-2
12. Quiet time:
‘Here’s what I want you to do: find a secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense His grace.’ ~ Matthew 6:6
I’m pretty sure you couldn’t help looking up that last one in another translation! Now you understand why a paraphrase is not a translation.
Extra or not, doesn’t MSG just make Bible reading a new and enriching experience? The verses just pop!
What are your favourite verses from The Message? Please share in the comments below.
Joy Ehonwa is an editor and a writer who is passionate about relationships and personal development. She runs Pinpoint Creatives, a proofreading, editing, transcription and ghostwriting service. Email: pinpointcreatives [at] yahoo.com