How important is it for Christians to read the Bible? If we attend church regularly, we get God’s word directly from an expert minister. If we attend bible study or Sunday school regularly, we get mega doses of scripture from educated teachers. And what about the blogs we read and all those Bible apps we keep on our phones and Facebook timelines – don’t they count, too?
We have memorized the really good scriptures:
- John 3:16,
- the 23rd Psalm,
- 1 Corinthians 13:4-13 (the love verses),
- the Ten Commandments,
- Philippians 4:13,
and certainly the “mote and plank” one (we love to pull that one out in online forums, don’t we?). So, why does my pastor continually tell me that I must take time out of my very busy day to read the Bible?
It is not a case of should, dear friends – as in, Christians should spend time with God’s word every day. It is a case of must. Christians must spend time with God’s word every day if we are to grow deeply in our faith as mature Christians.
And no, I am not any better at doing that than you are. I do read the Bible quite a bit. I constantly look up scripture online, and read the Bible on my iPhone at places like the dentist’s waiting room, but those times are either associated with something I am writing, or take place in loud spaces with lots of distractions. I don’t often take even ten minutes to devote just to reading from God’s word in a quiet and meditative environment. It is high time that I add that time into my life with God. I must do so, after all.
Think about other activities that we find time for because we must — activities with benefits that result from performing them and consequences that arise from not doing so. I brush my teeth so that my breath will be fresh and my teeth clean. If I stop brushing my teeth, they will become rotten, and I will have to spend thousands of dollars at the dentist repairing them. Of course, that is because I care about my teeth. If I didn’t care about them, I would just stop brushing and let them fall out. I care about my spirit as well; it tends to reign over areas in my life like emotional health and happiness. With those, I gain personal and professional success and a sense of fulfillment. When I have those in place, I am in a position to lift up others around me, which is my ultimate pleasure. Will adding ten minutes a day with the word of God be to my spirit as brushing is to my teeth?
The past two nights, I have ended my day with those ten minutes. I started with the Gospels. I figure I will just read straight through the New Testament ten minutes at a time. I have no idea how long it will take, but that is not the point. The point is just to read.
I tell others that God’s word is the only piece of writing that never becomes old, never ceases to teach. I always say that if I am stranded on a desert island with only one thing to read, I must have the Bible. Any other book would lose its ability to delight through the familiarity of repeated readings. The Bible never loses its ability to teach, to comfort, to inform, and to guide our lives. Scriptures that we have read thousands of times can suddenly take on entirely new meanings depending upon the circumstances we experience.
In times of plenty and peace, God’s word opens new avenues of thought for believers. In times of doubt and frustration, scriptures take on new meanings, encouraging us to strengthen our faith because God takes care of those who love Him. When trouble comes our way, His word shows us that He is our protector and our strength. In sorrow, God’s word comforts us.
I am experiencing a relatively peaceful time in my life just now. Last night in Matthew chapter six I read:
31 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ 32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. 33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.
That last line, verse 33, struck me deeply because I’ve been praying for quite a while to know that I am following God’s plan for my life, and not my own conceits.
“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.”
God told me last night exactly what to do. It is pretty much what I have been doing: seeking first the kingdom. He will take care of me. He is mighty to do so. I feel peace in continuing on my way, which is just what I needed. God provides. I know this because His word told me.
I will continue to read for ten minutes each night. I hope that it becomes as much a part of my bedtime ritual as brushing my teeth. And I pray that you, dear friends, if you have not already made God’s word part of your daily living, find your ten minutes a day to spend in the word.