Is the Bible really that important to our practical lives?
First, let me affirm that the above question is a stupid one. But before we get to why, let me show some reasons for why I asked it repeatedly for most of my life.
In a previous devotional (read it here), I shared how I used to lack an emotional connection to the Bible. It seemed useful for head-knowledge, but I doubted that it really changed anyone’s lifestyle because it never really trickled down into the engine of my life: my heart.
That made reading the Bible a chore. One that took so much work that it made my brain buzz (anyone else know that feeling?).
So, to fit my bias against reading the Bible, I invented hypothetical situations to “test” my “ideas.”
I considered a man locked up in jail for being a Christian. Surely a persecuted Christian who is not allowed a Bible but has all the time in the world to pray can grow spiritually and do well without a copy of Scripture. Right?
And speaking of persecuted Christians, what about those in areas like Iran, Eritrea, North Korea, or Bhutan, which are violently opposed to Christ followers? Surely the fact that they are not allowed a Bible would not be a hopeless crippling of their spiritual lives. Right?
I mean, God couldn’t let something like that happen. Right?
The only problem was, I tried to live a spiritually healthy life without reading the Bible, and failed miserably.
And I mean crash and burn and suffer third-degree curled toenails sort of failure.
You can’t get much deader than dead, and I was spiritually dead.
So, out of desperation, my brilliant brain designed another test.
Perhaps I should read the Bible consistently over a longer period of time to see if it really did its thing.
After all, not reading the Bible wasn’t helping, so perhaps reading it would do what everyone said it would.
But what part would I read first?
Now this is an important question. Different parts of the Bible achieve different purposes. Now more than ever, I think that this is a vital truth to be aware of.
If you go into Leviticus expecting to be lifted up and taught how to become an elder in the New Testament church, you’ll be disappointed.
Now, a theologian can show you Christ all over the Scriptures. But each book of Scripture differs in its goals.
So, when I started reading the Epistles, they helped me understand theology, my relationship to God, and how to respond to his offer of redemption and purification.
The book of Psalms showed me how to pray, and taught my heart the right attitude to approach God with.
Proverbs showed me the wisdom of the pure that has transcended generational boundaries for millennia.
The Gospels showed me the person of Jesus, and the depth of his experience on earth.
And Genesis showed me our origins, and the complicated relationship humanity has had to God from the beginning.
And the more I read, the more I realized the Bible was changing me.
Because reading the Bible actually is a necessity for spiritual growth.
The Bible is how God has revealed himself to us in this age, and given us the wisdom and direction we need to get to know him and walk faithfully with him.
“How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” – Psalm 119:9-11
The only way to live pure is to know God’s word (the Bible) and guard our lives according to its instruction.
The only way to seek him with our whole hearts is to do so with our whole person: our mind, emotion, and body.
We read his Word, bend our wills in thanksgiving and praise through prayer, and live faithfully in response by offering him our lives and obedience.
The only way to keep our wayward hearts from leading us astray is to put up guardrails by memorizing Scripture.
Even Jesus didn’t face temptation alone. He fought back with Scripture.
Jesus would read Scripture constantly in the synagogues. He knew Scripture because he studied and memorized it.
Then he would often go into desolate places to be alone in prayer.
And so he was faithful to his Father, who said, “This is my son, in whom I am well pleased.”
So, if we long to hear God say he’s pleased with us when we pass from this life into the next, we will devour God’s Word. We will read it constantly, and seek it joyfully like food to a starving man.
Then we will respond to the words we read by living a life of humble prayer and joyful dependence on God, living in step with his Spirit and guarding ourselves according to his commandments.
Jesus, give us a desire for your Word. Give us joy in your Scripture, and diligence in seeking you through reading the Bible. Show us the power of your promises and commands. And give us the strength to respond to them with faithful obedience. Amen.
Read the Bible right now. 🙂