It seems innocuous, but this verse leaves me scratching my head a little bit. Reading its context, this is a verse of encouragement inserted in a discussion about how we ought to encourage our neighbors. Paul then quotes a verse from the Jewish scriptures and writes this verse, as an argument that the Jewish scriptures shouldn’t be thrown away, they should be held in high regard because they encourage us – in this instance by reminding us that Jesus was willing to take on any insult meant for others because of his love for others.
What does Paul mean? Just that Scripture is meant for our encouragement. For me, this means that Scripture isn’t meant to harm us, and if it seems to, we’re understanding it wrong. If we’re using Scripture to harm others, we’re using it wrong. We have to be willing to read Scripture and not just believe the first thing that comes into our mind about it, but to explore and allow other Scripture to interpret the passage at hand. And if what we’re reading feels harsh or negative or painful, maybe the pain is the Holy Spirit speaking to us about something in our lives that needs to change – or maybe it’s that we’re misunderstanding some key point. Reading and interpreting Scripture isn’t easy. It requires critical thinking and working together. But the most important thing is simply to remember that the God that the Bible points to is a God of love who was willing to give up everything for you.