At For the Church, Zach Barnhart writes of those two small words that could potentially undermine everything you seek to accomplish in Bible study. Those words are “to you,” as in, “What does this passage mean to you?”
Those two words turn a glorious question into gobbledygook. They mistake the authority of the text as the authority of the interpreter. And in the name of application, they cut away observation and interpretation. Such application has no power.
“To you” seems like an innocent way to invite everyone’s voice to the table for discussion, but I contend that it’s a surefire way to kill effective Bible study. Of course, some fiction books, for example, are written for the sole purpose of leaving their interpretation open-ended. But this is not the way of historical, bona fide Scripture, the words of God Himself. Though nuance and opinion has its place at the table, the problem with “to you” is that the phrase elevates a reader’s interpretation over the author’s intention.
Barnhart goes on to suggest ways we can avoid the “to you” chaff without shutting down room for disagreement or different perspectives.