October 2017 – Imagine that Jesus Christ walked through the door and wanted to spend time with you. What would you do? How would you respond? A good indicator of how you feel about Him is how you treat His written Word.
A nineteenth century preacher named Edward Payson once said, “As we treat the Word of God, so should we treat God Himself, were He to come and reside among us in human form, as He once dwelt on earth in the form of His Son.”
How we treat the Word of God can be a monumental challenge for most of us. We wake up, take a shower, get dressed, and then try to spend 30–40 minutes (OK … 5 minutes?) in the Scriptures. However, all too often we find our minds drifting to anything else clamoring for our attention.
Such distractions can minimize or waste our time in God’s Word. Our minds are so eager to leave the Word of God that we literally have to fight ourselves to stay focused. Consider how these common but unfruitful habits turn our minds and hearts away from spending profitable time in God’s Word.
1. Putting it off. You know those mornings. You’ve slept a little late, so you’ll get to it some other time. But throughout the day you never get the chance or you forget altogether. When you remember, you are tired and already in bed. You’ll catch up tomorrow. Wash, rinse, repeat.
2. Skirting the issue. If there is something in your life out of line with the will of God, you tend to stay away from the passages that deal with that issue. Reading the Word while holding on to the sin in your heart may be less beneficial than not reading the Word at all.
3. Addressing only the urgent. There are times when big things in your life get in the way of your devotional time, and that’s fine. But most of the time, distractions are not so urgent. What grabs your attention when you sit down to read?
4. Looking for a prescription. It can be a temptation to treat the Bible like a medicine cabinet, selecting passages to read that will simply make you feel better. The Bible is not a list of pointers to bolster your self-esteem. The Bible is the voice of God speaking to you.
5. Reading defensively. When you read God’s Word, are you allowing it into every area of your heart? Or are you hiding behind some walls, keeping one or two rooms locked away, unwilling to let God go in and change them?
6. Picking and choosing. Do you gravitate toward your favorite passages and spend more time reading them than the rest of the Word? You must read the whole Word of God to rightly understand it.
7. Skimming the surface. When you read the Word, does it have an effect on your life? Are you changed by what you read? Is it real and concrete to you, or simply good sentiments? This is the Word of the infinite holy God. What it says, it means.
When we struggle with any of these in our lives, we must not just accept them. Instead, we can turn them on their heads and see them as challenges, praying to God to convince us that we need His Word and asking for the passion to pursue Him in the Scriptures. We have no reason to expect that He would withhold this from us, so we ask boldly and in confidence. God wants to draw us closer to Himself, and He will reward our earnest petition.
How to Read the Bible for All It's Worth
Available at christianbook.com