Okay, so maybe reading the Word isn’t always as easy as we think it should be, but that doesn’t mean we get to neglect it. It is essential to our walk with Christ to be steeped in reading and study of scripture. Before we move forward, let’s take a peek at what the Bible says:
Psalm 119:105 “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”
Colossians 3:16 “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”
1 Timothy 4:13 “Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.”
2 Timothy 3:16 “All scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,”
Job 23:12 “I have not departed from the commandment of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my portion of food.
Of course this isn’t an exhaustive list of what scripture says about the importance of reading the Bible, but I think the point is clear: we need to be in the Word. This may not come easy to us. In fact, I’m gonna say it’s going to be really difficult at times. Our sinful nature causes us to be rebellious and not want to obey the commands we are given (Eph.2:1-2). But if we are in Christ, then the Holy Spirit dwells within us to convict us of sin and enables us to be obedient (John 15:26). So, we are not alone in this effort and Praise God for that!
First off, we might need to adjust our perspective on how we see the Bible. The Bible isn’t about us. It’s about God. If we are approaching our time in the Word with a focus on ourselves then we are going to miss the point of it all. Yes, there is scripture for practical living (Proverbs…like all of them), but if we open our Bibles and then ask, “What is this saying about me?” then we are limiting what the Bible is really saying. Instead let’s ask, “What is this teaching me about God?”.
Second, we cannot let our feelings guide our study. I’m not saying that reading scripture should be a cold heartless act, but I am saying that we can’t be led solely by our emotions since our hearts are deceitful (Jeremiah 17:9). If we are constantly depending on the Bible to engage our feelings then we will easily skip over scriptures that may be difficult or confusing to us. Trying to maintain these feelings can be tricky and defeating as well. If your time reading the Bible doesn’t meet that emotional expectation then you will quickly be disheartened and you’ll be missing out on so much more. Mark 12:30 commands us to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Let’s obey this command by also loving God with our minds! Let’s get our brains in on the game!
Bible literacy should be important to all of us. It isn’t only for teachers, preachers, and scholars. Being Bible literate will keep us from falling into error. We will grow in discernment and will be able to know when something that is being taught is harmful or incorrect. We will be able to defend our faith based upon the Word of God not our opinion, share the Gospel the way it’s intended to be shared, and obey the great commission (Matthew 28:16-20) by discipling others rightly – in the Holy Scriptures.
Okay so how do we start? First, pray and ask God for help and guidance. Don’t skip this part. Then get out your Bible and read it. Do not flip to a random page and start reading wherever your finger lands. Pick a book of the Bible and begin reading it from the beginning. Read the major prophets, read the gospels, read the epistles, read Genesis all the way to Revelation. The Bible is literature so we can treat it as such. There are also many study methods that can be used – some simplified and some more complicated. Pray about which method you should try and maybe even read a book on how to study the Word (We love “Women of the Word” by Jen Wilkin). Join a bible study at your church. Encourage your group to actually study the Bible rather than a topical or subject study. Ask your pastor for help.
Reading the Word of God is a habit that all professing Christians should share. It will take effort and discipline, but it will be worth it.
“The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.”
Psalm 19:7-11 ESV