By Ashley J. Osborne
One of the foundations of Christian living has to do with the Bible.
But if you’re like me, you sometimes struggle to know what to do with the Bible, how to read it, or good old lack of motivation. If we truly believe it is “living and active” (Hebrews 4:12), vital for our growth and spiritual maturity (1 Peter 2:2-3), a “light to my path” (Psalm 119:105), and important to our Christian life (2 Timothy 3:6), why do we have trouble doing it?
Not reading the Bible can lead to many avoidable problems. A main issue is lack of foundation – if we don’t spend time learning the Word, we can find ourselves easily taken in by other belief systems, confused and discouraged, misinterpreting or taking it out of context, or getting distracted by things that shouldn’t take up our attention.
Multiple times in Scripture we are commanded to learn, know, meditate upon, and allow ourselves to be changed by the Bible. When we don’t open the book, not only are we disobedient, we are missing out on the blessings that God provides through his word — blessings for both ourselves and others as a result of our changed lives.
In this tumultuous world we live in, we are also missing out on peace for our future — Billy Graham once said, “I’ve read the last page of the Bible, it’s all going to turn out alright.”
Why don’t we read the Bible? I know for me it usually comes down to laziness — I’m just “too busy,” or I “forget.” Often I don’t prioritize it over social media or entertainment.
Other reasons include feeling confused by it, being intimidated by lack of knowledge, an overdependence on other sources (such as commentaries or popular authors), or fear that it could be flawed or contradictory to what I want it to say. Some of it comes from the wrong motivations.
Reading the Bible will always be rewarding because it gives us an open window into the character of God himself. All too often I approach the Bible trying to learn things about me – what should I do, what can I learn from this, how should this change me. In reality, I should be approaching the Bible seeking to learn more about God – what does he do, what is he teaching, what is his character like. Even the “weirdest” or most difficult Bible passages teach us about who God is and what he is like.
So, how do we start? Certainly there are many tools to use, books to read, topical approaches, reading plans, and discussion groups, but really it’s most important to make a habit of cracking open the book and spending time with it, humbling ourselves and praying for the Lord to reveal himself to us.
We must follow the example of Job and declare, “I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my portion of food.” (23:12) When God is revealed, we are changed.